Why is the US government blocking refugee flights from Afghanistan?


ReligionUnplugged believes in a well-reasoned and well-researched diversity of opinion. This article reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily represent those of Religion Unplugged, its staff and contributors.

(OPINION) “Why are our efforts blocked? The question is being raised everywhere – in daily emails, WhatsApp messages or text messages from people on the ground in Afghanistan. It is repeatedly expressed by NGOs, philanthropists and all those trying to help thousands of potential Afghan refugees. Why do these refugees become “refuseniks”, those who are refused permission to leave?

You will also hear the question “why” if you talk to former US military service members about what is being said on the ground in Afghanistan. Or if you seek refugee information from American and European Christian organizations. Or if you interview aid workers who have been working in Afghanistan for a long time, asking them to explain the status of at-risk Afghans who are on the run.

The two big questions: Who is blocking relief operations? And why?

The answer remains the same: the US State Department is blocking virtually all passages out of Afghanistan. A charter flight was authorized for departure Thursday after days of dithering, but he is apparently still awaiting Taliban approval, which could take days. RealClearPolitics reported On Friday, “several other aircraft from the same group – each carrying at least a dozen US citizens – are still awaiting clearance from US authorities to depart, the source said.”

Meanwhile, the borders are closed to anyone trying to flee on foot. And evacuee documentation rules continue to be changed arbitrarily and without explanation. For far too many of them, this made leaving impossible.

On September 1, WORLD’s Mindy Belz reported that President Biden has promised “to provide safe passage for any American, Afghan or foreign partner who wishes to leave Afghanistan.” However, “experts involved in the ongoing extractions say the State Department is actually making the process more difficult by imposing new requirements on countries in the region that process Afghan refugees.”

On Monday August 30, the Federal Aviation Administration said Kabul airport was without air traffic control and civilian aircraft were no landing in Afghanistan without prior authorization. In fact, a Becker News said, “Amid numerous reports of rescue efforts from groups like Task Force Pineapple, Task Force Dunkirk and Team America, the US State Department has issued an advisory to nations surrounding Afghanistan to deny support aircraft conducting such operations in Afghanistan.

Conservative writer John Cardillo tweeted“We are now told that the State Department is telling nations surrounding Afghanistan not to allow private jets providing private extractions to land and/or refuel. This is inexplicable and wrong.

Charmaine Hedding is president of the Shai Fund, a privately funded international charity that provides logistical support for Glenn Beck’s Mercury One rescue flights. Shai Fund assists at-risk religious minorities seeking to escape the danger posed by Taliban threats.

Hedding explained, “This is a privately funded initiative, and we have permission from several countries willing to welcome our refugees. But, for the moment, Mercury One’s planes are grounded and cannot leave Afghan airspace due to current US regulations. Our passengers include people at serious risk of religious persecution, including Hazara converts to Christianity, who recently had their IDs changed from Muslim to Christian, sending the Taliban door-to-door looking for them. We have also listed Ahmadi Muslims who have been victims of the most heinous crimes, forcing most of the population to flee in recent years. But despite our best efforts and the very real dangers that lie ahead, we have been blocked every step of the way. »

Others involved in the refugee efforts, who asked not to be identified, are deeply concerned about the level of authority given to the Taliban when it comes to approving US citizens’ passage. Despite pleas from US senators and military leaders, the State Department remains intractable. How is it that our government’s cooperation with the Taliban has taken precedence over America’s traditionally compassionate and generous humanitarian activities?

As of this writing, help is not on the way for thousands of at-risk US passport or green card holders, military translators, religious minorities representing multiple faiths, and thousands of others whose life is in danger. Of course, these risks are due to the obscure edicts of the Taliban. But even more troubling is the US State Department’s acquiescence to them.

Who makes these decisions? And why?

Lela Gilbert is senior researcher for international religious freedom at the Family Research Council and a member of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @lelagilbert.


Comments are closed.