An Afghan woman identifying herself only as Bahara holds a book during an interview in Massachusetts. AP
More than 28,000 Afghans have applied for temporary admission into the US for humanitarian reasons since shortly before the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan and sparked a chaotic US withdrawal, but only about 100 of them have been approved, according to federal officials.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has struggled to keep up with the surge in applicants to a little-used program known as humanitarian parole but promises it's ramping up staff to address the growing backlog.
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Meanwhile, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and senior Qatari leaders this week discussed their shared interest in meeting the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, the US 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 Minster Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdelaziz Al Thani and other senior government and economic leaders in Doha on Thursday, it said.
A Massachusetts resident identifying herself only as “Safi,” holds a purse with traditional Afghan patterns. AP
The United States and Qatar affirmed their intention to work together on countering illicit finance, Treasury said.
Afghan families in the US and the immigrant groups supporting them say the slow pace of approvals threatens the safety of their loved ones, who face an uncertain future under the hard-line government because of their ties to the West.
"We're worried for their lives,” says Safi, a Massachusetts resident whose family is sponsoring 21 relatives seeking humanitarian parole. "Sometimes, I think there will be a day when I wake up and receive a call saying that they're no more.”
The 38-year-old US permanent resident, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of retribution against her relatives, is hoping to bring over her sister, her uncle and their families. She says the families have been in hiding and their house was destroyed in a recent bombing because her uncle had been a prominent local official before the Taliban took over.
The slow pace of approvals is frustrating because families have already paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars in processing fees, says Chiara St. Pierre, an attorney at the International Institute of New England in Lowell, Massachusetts, a refugee resettlement agency assisting Safi's family.
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
Afghanistan’s Central Bank called on Biden to reverse his order and release the funds to it, saying in a statement on Saturday that they belonged to the people of Afghanistan and not a government, party or group.
The death toll in the explosion late on Friday that also destroyed 14 houses is expected to rise because several of the injured were critical, said Rafiq Sherzai, a spokesman for the provincial hospital.
The Agency provides education, health care, and social services to Palestinian refugees. The agency is funded almost entirely by contributions from member states of the United Nations.
The mayor of Belgorod, Valentin Demidov, told AFP that around 5,000 people who fled border villages have registered with city authorities, with several hundred in temporary housing.
A default would have likely triggered market panic, huge job losses and a recession, with global implications.