Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn


With the countdown of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan , future of 18,000 odd interpreters who worked for US forces has become uncertain. Thousands of Afghanis who have worked with US funded or sponsored media outlets, educational institutions and partner organizations, do not know what will happen to them. According to Human Rights Watch, as the US withdrew its remaining troops from Afghanistan, Afghan government forces appear to be rapidly collapsing in the face of a Taliban offensive that has seen more than 150 districts fall in just eight weeks.

As many as 18,000 interpreters who worked for US forces, whose fate depends on the US expediting Special Immigration Visa (SIV) relocations that would allow them to leave the country and escape Taliban retaliation. Thousands of Afghans who worked with partner organizations, media outlets, and educational institutions that the US funded, sponsored, and helped establish. Women’s rights activists are particularly alarmed by new Taliban restrictions in areas where they have assumed control. I have heard from many desperate Afghan journalists and activists seeking advice as threats to them escalate.

On June 25, the Biden administration said it was committed to protecting “the most vulnerable Afghans.” But with limited pathways to protection, such statements ring hollow. Human rights Watch suggested that US should prioritize these Afghans at risk by making them eligible for the US refugee admissions program under the P-2 (priority 2) category of refugees of special concern. They could be defined as Afghans who do not qualify under the SIV program but who worked or were associated with US citizens in Afghanistan. Such people would include employees of the American University of Afghanistan, women rights activists and other human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers who worked with US-supported media, and Afghan employees of US-based nongovernmental organizations, even if these were not operating under US-funded contracts. The US should help their former staff and partners now as they face threats and persecution because of their association with the US engagement in Afghanistan.