Speed Reads

afghanistan conflict

Afghan special visa applicant says U.S. withdrawal left him to make 'life-or-death decision'

When Khan, an Afghan who worked with the U.S. Mission in the country for more than six years, received notice that his interview for his Special Immigrant Visa application was finally scheduled after three years of waiting, he didn't feel the sense of relief that he would've felt in the past, he writes in an op-ed published by Just Security.

"This email only gave me anxiety as my thoughts immediately turned how I would get to Kabul safely," writes Khan, whose full name wasn't published to protect his security. "The Taliban control the only highway that connects where I now live now to Kabul, and with eaching passing day, they became more militarized and stronger."

The decision to withdraw the U.S. military, Khan says, didn't provide U.S.-affiliated Afghans like him with safer alternatives and many of them, including Khan's family, have been targeted by the Taliban in retaliation, so he was "forced to make this life-or-death decision." Ultimately, he decided to go through with it and made it safely to Kabul by renting an ambulance, which the Taliban does not stop at checkpoints. 

Khan's worries didn't stop there, though. It's unclear how long he and his family will have to wait in Kabul until they're included in an evacuation to the U.S., but it's also not safe for him to leave the city and return home. It doesn't have to be way this way, he says, arguing that the U.S. can do more to protect evacuees like him even as they continue the withdrawal. His ideas include speeding up the process, expanding eligibility, and providing "support to those applicants that are not in Kabul" so they can reach the city safely. Read the full op-ed at Just Security.