Human Rights First: Evacuation to Central Asia Wrong Move for Afghan Allies
WASHINGTON -- Human Rights First and Veterans for American Ideals strongly condemn the Biden administration’s decision to ask the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to temporarily house approximately half of the 18,000 Afghan allies who assisted U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“Make no mistake, outsourcing our problem to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is the worst possible choice for the administration,” said Chris Purdy, director of Veterans for American Ideals, a project of Human Rights First. “Not only is it an abdication of our responsibility to allies who risked their lives for American forces, but it also unnecessarily sets up a potential continuing human rights disaster for people who have already endured years of persecution and threats of violence for their service to the United States.”
Evacuating our allies from Afghanistan to third countries will isolate them from the U.S. immigration system, and those that are not admitted to the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program may be unfairly denied legal recourse with deadly consequences. Worse, the Central Asian nations identified by the Biden administration to house these allies have records of failing to protect people from persecution and violence. The administration must also ensure that any evacuation includes all individuals in the visa pipeline, including those waiting to receive their Chief of Mission approval.
Sending our Afghan allies to third countries that are not signatories to the Refugee Convention or do not have functioning asylum systems would cause serious long-term problems for the United States. More importantly, it abrogates our commitment to the Afghan allies evacuated to those countries. Countries like Uzbekistan do not abide by refugee protocol and Afghans sent there who would otherwise be eligible for refugee status and asylum run the risk of being returned to danger.
There is bipartisan consensus that these allies have earned access to the safety of the U.S., and leadership in Guam has actively pursued a solution that brings these allies to that American territory. Human Rights First and VFAI strongly recommend the administration reconsider this plan that fails to adequately protect our Afghan allies and instead focus on a solution that provides all 18,000 of our allies the protections that the U.S. can provide.