Washington, 3 November 2021 (TDI): Over 103 non-governmental organizations wrote a letter to the National Security Advisor of the US, Jake Sullivan, on 28 October. In the letter, the organizations expressed their concern for the Afghans, that stayed behind.
According to the letter, after the US withdrew its troops; and the Taliban takeover, tens of thousands of risk Afghans stayed behind. These individuals were fundamental in the efforts to strengthen Afghanistan.
They worked to strengthen Afghanistan’s government, judiciary, civil society, the protection of human rights, and media. The organizations stated that because of their work, they face the threat of retaliation.
That retaliation would be at the hands of the de-facto authorities. The organizations called the administration of Biden to prioritize their evacuation before its too late.
The letter stated that some assisted the US and allied armed forces. These individuals also worked for or alongside the US-based and funded several organizations.
According to the letter, those organizations were to secure women’s rights, establish a free press, or provide humanitarian assistance. The organizations warned that the US Administration has to evacuate them; to meet their commitments towards at-risk Afghans.
The organizations then expressed their interest in the plan of the US administration to process at-risk Afghans. According to this letter, they fall outside of the scope of the SIV program. They also stated that these individuals; have been consistently under-addressed over the past months.
The organizations shared their concern for those Afghans referred by employers to the P-2 designation of the US Refugee Admissions Program. The Organizations called to include them in the evacuation. Because their work in advancing human rights, democracy, and human dignity, puts them at risk too.
FIRST RECOMMENDATION OF THE ORGANIZATION
The organizations made several recommendations to the US administration for FY 2022. The first one was to establish a unified US government coordinating group for overseas operations. This recommendation is to facilitate inter-agency coordination.
The letter stated that this recommendation should include the US Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, Treasury, and the US Agency for International Development.
The second recommendation was to create a humanitarian parole program for Afghan nationals. The groups would need to include Afghans with US ties or loved ones already in the US. In the program, the US should provide and process filed applications for humanitarian parole.
The US should also provide documentation to allow these individuals to travel to the US. The organizations urged the program to waive any fees associated with the request and also an application for humanitarian parole for Afghan nationals.
The third recommendation was to provide travel documents, diplomatic notes, or letters of support to allow at-risk Afghans to exit Afghanistan. So they can enter “lilypad” in other countries for processing then.
The recommendation also included the creation of a mechanism for Afghans in host countries to enter “lilypads” for processing to the US. This recommendation is because many at-risk Afghans don’t have valid passports or visas, and also with the Taliban’s announcement.
The Taliban announced that the Afghans without documentation would not be able to cross the border. The fact that the US does not maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, and many at-risk Afghans can’t secure documentation, other actions are required then.
The letter recommended the negotiation to safe passage into “lilypad” countries and then to US military bases for processing, to the US government.
The fourth recommendation was to increase resources and personnel to “lilypad” countries. The resources and personnel are to scale up and expediently process applications. According to the letter, the US government should also incentivize third countries. The incentive is for them to provide aid and housing to fleeing Afghans.
LAST RECOMMENDATIONS AND FINAL STATEMENT
The fifth recommendation was to provide virtual and expedited screening and processing for all at-risk Afghans. The last one was to identify additional pathways to safety for at-risk Afghans who don’t qualify for the programs.
The letter stated that the Taliban is targetting Afghans with retaliatory killings and violence. Finally, the organizations also urged the US administration to act now, as the country faces an economic crisis and food insecurity.