On Tuesday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said that as of 1 June, the United States had completed up to 44 percent of its Afghan troop withdrawal process, with over six facilities handed over to Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry.
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has called on President Joe Biden to “immediately evacuate” thousands of Washington’s Afghan “friends and allies” from Afghanistan amid the pullout of American troops from the South Asian country.
According to the authors of the 4 June letter, the State Department’s current blueprint to approve special immigrant visas (SIVs) allowing more than 18,000 of Afghans to enter the US is being fulfilled too slowly.
The lawmakers argued that the current SIV process may come to a standstill because “tt takes an average of 800+ days, and we plan to withdraw [US troops] in less than 100 days”.
They predicted the process “will not be rectified in time to help the 18,000+ applicants who need visas before our withdrawal”.
The call to Biden comes after State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that they had identified “process improvements” and directed additional resources to the SIV programme, including increasing staffing in Washington and Kabul to more efficiently process SIV applications.
“We understand and we recognise that we have a special commitment and a special responsibility to the many Afghans who, over the years, have at great risk to themselves and even to their…