Kabul: The US will begin to evacuate the Afghans who aided American military troops over the past two decades in the last week of July. The White House said that their lives are at risk because they worked for the US government as translators and in other roles.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said that the evacuation is called Operation Allies Refuge. They will be given priority among the special immigration visa applicants, reported The Guardian. She did not provide the number of people who will be evacuated in the initial flights due to "operational and security reasons".
An anonymous US official told The Guardian that about 2,500 people will be included in the initial evacuation. The new immigrants will be housed in the military facilities while their visa applications are processed.
The Biden administration faced pressure from lawmakers of both parties and advocacy groups to begin evacuations of people who worked for the US government and their families ahead of completing the withdrawal of military troops because they are at risk of retaliation. James Miervaldis, chairman of a group called No One Left Behind, said that the start of the evacuation operation is "a very positive development".
"The reason that we are taking these steps is that these are courageous individuals. We want to make sure we recognize and value the role they've played over the last several years," said Jen Psaki.
The initial evacuations are likely to be carried out by civilian chartered aircraft. The state department coordinating the evacuation is headed by veteran ambassador Tracey Jacobson. She is assisted by officials from the Pentagon and Homeland Security. The White House deputy homeland security adviser, Russ Travers, is in charge of the interagency policy process.
Since US President Joe Biden announced that the government has decided to pull troops out of Afghanistan and end the 20-year-long military operation, the Taliban has actively started seizing control over regions. Recently, a key strategic border with Pakistan was taken over.
Joe Biden had announced that the US military mission in Afghanistan will end on August 31.