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6,500 Afghan evacuees are stranded in limbo awaiting US resettlement

Fatima's application for admission to the United States on humanitarian grounds was withheld for the rest of her life.

Fatima will turn 1 in September, as will the Emergency Immigration Application submitted to the U.S. Government on her behalf one week after her birth. 

Against the seeminglyinsurmountable odds faced by other Afghans seeking admission to the United States, Fatima's parents last year was granted special permission to enter the United States because of his father's work. Government documents show the Afghan presidential palace before the Taliban reconquered Afghanistan.

However, the United States rejected the petition filed on behalf of Fatima, who was born just 16 days after her parents' petition was approved. Not yet ruled. The 10-month wait has left families in a state of legal and emotional turmoil, testing their faith in the United States and its promise to provide shelter to vulnerable Afghans.

"We are in a very bad situation," said Fatima's father, Mohammed, who was granted special permission to apply for humanitarian parole to enter the United States on September 1, 2021. Told. The situation is grim. This place is just like a prison.

The family has been stranded in the United Arab Emirates since fleeing Afghanistan in October 2021. They asked for a name change, citing concerns about their safety and that of their relatives in Afghanistan due to Mohammed's family business. A high official in the presidential palace.

Muhammad, his wife Fatima, are among the thousands of Afghan refugees who have been stranded in third countries for months, often nearly a year. resettle them even after almost a year of chaotic US evacuations.

Some 6,500 Afghan displaced people are in Emirates Humanitarian, an apartment complex outside Abu Dhabi that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to convert into a makeshift refugee housing facility. He remains in the City, a previously undisclosed US government statement said. Division data is shared with his CBS News.

Some of the Afghans in the Humanitarian City said he arrived in the UAE last summer shortly after the US-allied government in Kabul collapsed. Others fled Afghanistan last fall on charter flights overseen by non-governmental groups. 2022 Sunday February 13th. Remarks by Najafizada/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Afghans who want them to get special immigrant visas for aiding the US war is included. Efforts; families or individuals who believe they may be harmed by the Taliban because of their work, ethnicity, gender, or any other reason.

He, unlike more than 70,000 Afghans who were directly displaced,was rapidly resettled by the United States last year. People living in the Humanitarian City are subject to a slower, case-by-case immigration review by U.S. authorities that does not include U.S. resettlement guarantees.

US policy is responsible for different processing. An Afghan who had fled to the UAE before August 31, 2021, was virtually guaranteed admission to the U.S. if he passed certain medical and security checks, the State Department said. told CBS News. However, those arriving after August 31, 2021 will need to prove they are eligible for U.S. immigration benefits such as visas and refugee status. 

Kabul fell to the Taliban on 15 August 2021, with the last US planes leaving the country just before midnight on 31 August. A rapid takeover sparked a humanitarian crisis,millions of Afghanshundreds of thousands of people across the border into neighboring Pakistan. Among them were unregistered refugees who told CBS News of their plight in June. A vetted Afghan refugee at a US military base in Kosovo told CBS News that he "felt like a prisoner."

The State Department said the United States was investigating all Afghan cases left in humanitarian cities. The ministry said the United States continues to process some Afghans in Afghanistan, noting that a total of 17,000 evacuees have passed through humanitarian cities and most of those who left have been resettled in the United States. 69}

. But the State Department says not all Afghans in humanitarian cities qualify for the United States. He said he has urged other countries to resettle displaced persons.

"The United States is committed to helping Afghans in the Emirates Humanitarian City reach their final destination," the State Department said in a statement. “With our continued commitment to our allies in Afghanistan, we expect to welcome thousands more individuals to the United States in the near future.”

Some Afghans claim to be treated differently and even ignored.

Joseph Robert, a US veteran who oversaw the evacuation and relocation of some Afghans to the UAE said it was up to civilian American citizens and the UAE government to rush to help stranded and at-risk Afghans. U.S. forces withdraw.

"Afghans in the United Arab Emirates are left in limbo with uncertainty about their future, unable to feed their loved ones still suffering in Afghanistan. , the burden of aid is in the hands of the American people, and foreign countries who have sacrificed their time, money and resources to do the right thing," Robert said.

It is unclear whether there is a definite deadline for the transfer of Afghans remaining in Humanitarian City to the United States or a third country, but the facility in Leesburg, Virginia, has been decimated by the Biden administration. We are using it to handle the arrival of Afghans. The budget for Congress runs out at the end of September.

It is also unclear whether the Emirati government is willing to provide Afghans with housing and other basic necessities. In a statement to CBS News, the UAE government said it would work with the US to "resettle Afghan displaced persons in a timely manner", noting that the contract to house them was made "temporarily". did.

“The United Arab Emirates remains committed to continued cooperation with the United States and other international partners to enable Afghan displaced persons to live in safety, security and dignity. "The Emirati government is providing hygiene, health, clinical, counseling, education and food services to Afghans," it added.

For Muhammad, a former presidential official, the wait proved unbearable. Mohammed said his family feels hopeless whenever they see other Afghans leaving humanitarian cities.

He said the situation was made worse by the fact that humanitarian cities were not allowed to leave. "We are in the room day and night," added Mohammed, who said the prolonged and indefinite stay undermined his family's mental health. Representing Legal Aid Society Attorney Elizabeth Reaser Murphy said the baby's humanitarian parole application should be prioritized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) because of her age and the approval of the authorities. Stated. About her parents' pleas.

“While we understand USCIS resources are limited given the number of pending parole applications, this situation is an exceptional one. It's unfair and inhumane to keep them," said Rieser-Murphy, who has U.S. citizen relatives in New York ready to welcome them.

Since July 2021, USCIS has received about 48,900 applications for humanitarian parole from Afghans abroad, according to her unpublished USCIS data. Of her 8,427 parole applications granted as of July 28, 8,058, or nearly 96 percent of them, were denied by her USCIS, according to USCIS data.

Muhammad said he could be imprisoned or even killed if his baby was not allowed into the United States and his family was deported to Afghanistan. He was alsomurdered by the Taliban.

"This may be the future of our lives," he said.

Camilo Montoya Galvez
Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Camilo Montoya Galvez is an immigration reporter for CBS News. Based in Washington, he covers immigration policy and politics.

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