Following the tragic evacuation from Kabul, the US is desperately trying to send Afghan visa applicants to third countries.
As Taliban forces took over the Afghan capital Kabul, the world watched the dramatic and rushed evacuation of US diplomats and citizens by the military flights, leaving thousands of their Afghan associates in the lurch.
It is still uncertain how many Afghan refugees the US will take following the Taliban takeover.
Recently, the reports emerged that the US Department of Defence could give asylum to 30,000 Afghan refugees “in the immediate future” and host them at US Army garrisons in Texas and Wisconsin.
The majority of Afghans who will be accepted into the US will be those who were employed by the US military in Afghanistan and eligible under the Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs).
The reports have not been confirmed by the US authorities yet. What is clear, however, is that the US administration is trying to send asylum seekers to a third country.
East African country Uganda said Tuesday that it had agreed to temporarily take in 2,000 Afghan refugees as a response to an official request from the US.
The US made the request on Monday to its ally President Yoweri Museveni, who agreed to house the Afghan asylum seekers for “three months” before Washington resettled them elsewhere.
Apart from Uganda, the Balkan countries such as Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia agreed to serve as a transit country for a number of Afghan refugees whose final destination is the United States.
The government of North Macedonia, upon the US request, said it will take in 450 Afghans by the end of the week until their asylum application to the US is completed. The length of the process and the details of the transportation of the applicants to the US are still unclear.
The efforts to relocate the Afghan applications began before the Taliban takeover. President Joe Biden's administration has held secret talks with more countries than previously known in a desperate attempt to secure deals to temporarily house at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government.
When the Taliban began its advance at a fast pace, the US sent 1,000 personnel to Qatar to accelerate the processing of applications for Special Immigrant Visas. But after the swift takeover by the Taliban, many visa applicants are still waiting for the final decision and fear reprisals by the Taliban forces.
The Biden administration was initially exploring having the Afghan neighbours, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan take in thousands of applicants, but that effort has made little progress. The negotiations for a deal to house about 8,000 Afghans in Qatar, which hosts a large US military base have yet to yield positive results.
Despite warnings earlier this year that the Taliban could take control of Afghanistan, data from the US State Department shows that just 485 Afghan refugees have been resettled so far since the beginning of this year.