Afghans seeking humanitarian relief worried about long delays

An Afghan woman who identifies only as Bahara holds a book during an interview in Massachusetts. PA

Gulf Today Report

More than 28,000 Afghans applied for temporary admission to the United States on humanitarian grounds shortly before the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan and triggered a chaotic withdrawal from the United States, but only about 100 of them have been approved, according to federal officials.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have struggled to keep up with rising numbers of applicants for an under-utilized program known as humanitarian parole, but are vowing to bolster their staff to address the growing backlog.


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Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo and senior Qatari leaders this week discussed their mutual interest in meeting the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday.

Adeyemo also discussed equitable growth, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges and opportunities of virtual assets during his meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdelaziz Al Thani and other senior government and economic leaders at Doha on Thursday, he said.

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A Massachusetts resident identifying herself only as “Safi” holds a handbag with traditional Afghan designs. PA

The United States and Qatar have affirmed their intention to work together to combat illicit financing, the Treasury said.

Afghan families in the United States and the immigrant groups that support them say slow approvals threaten the safety of loved ones, who face an uncertain future under the hard-line government due to their ties to the West.

“We are worried about their lives,” says Safi, a Massachusetts resident whose family is sponsoring 21 relatives who are seeking compassionate release. “Sometimes I think there will be a day when I wake up and get a call saying More.”

The 38-year-old U.S. permanent resident, who has asked that her last name not be used for fear of reprisals against loved ones, hopes to bring her sister, uncle and their families. She says families were in hiding and their home was destroyed in a recent bombing because her uncle had been a senior local official before the Taliban took power.

The slowness of approvals is frustrating because families have already paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars in processing fees, says Chiara St. Pierre, an attorney at the New England International Institute in Lowell, Mass., An agency. resettlement of refugees helping Safi’s family.


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