Houston: In the war-torn and fluid socio-political situation in Afghanistan, reports abound about possible – current – flights of Afghans for life and more secure surroundings in safer countries. And those with record of service and loyalty to the ousted Afghan government and the US military, fear it more.
Now an estimated 30,000 Afghan refugees are reported to be heading to the US to escape the travails. They are mostly expected to be resettled in different cities in Texas state, the agency for refugee services has been quoted by PTI as saying.
These Afghans are expected to arrive in the US under a Special Immigrant Visas in coming weeks. Many are expected to be accommodated in cities in the state of Texas like Dallas, forth Worth, Houston and Austin.
Afghan nationals and their families, who aided the US military, are in grave danger and are seeking refuge in the US, Russell Smith, CEO of Refugee Services of Texas (RST) said in a statement.
So far, 107 families are confirmed to relocate to Austin in the next few weeks. Over the weekend, the Austin office of RST resettled a family of seven, and is gearing up to welcome four additional families this week.
Smith sees this as just the beginning of this wave and it stands ready to do our part in this crisis.
Refugee Services of Texas Area Director Mark Hagar told media that they are expecting across Texas to receive over 300 individuals in the next several weeks.
El Paso's Fort Bliss will provide temporary housing for the Afghans who have applied for SIV, given to those who've in some way helped the military effort the past 20 years.
"The term SIV gets tossed around a lot. But essentially, they are veterans because they did support our coalition forces," Hagar said.
"We're getting cases announced basically every day right now. It's been a quick turnaround," Hagar said.
Some of the refugees will stay in Texas, but others will be able to go to any state or city where they have maybe a family member or a friend.
One criterion for the resettlement move is the past record of the refugees of standing by the US forces against possible local retaliation. Hagar said RST is working with national refugee resettlement partners and the US government to offer protection and resettlement opportunities to these 'brave' Afghans and their families.
"We have an obligation as Americans to support those who gave everything to help our nation, and we must act now to ensure these refugees are evacuated and transported to safety" the statement said.
Every year, SIV recipients represent a large percentage of the forcibly displaced individuals.
RST says it has welcomed over 2,400 SIV's from Afghanistan and Iraq since 2010.