U.S. to Withdraw 18,000 Afghans Working with U.S. Troops

The United States has confirmed that it will evacuate 18,000 Afghans who work or cooperate with U.S. troops by the end of August. That number could rise to 100,000 if their families follow. These Afghans fear retaliation against them if the Taliban make a comeback.

As the Taliban continues its lightning advance in Afghanistan, the U.S. announced Wednesday (July 14) the imminent evacuation of Afghans working with U.S. forces. “Flights out of Afghanistan will begin to start in the last week of July” and applicants who have applied for special visas and their families should leave the country by Aug. 31, the date the U.S. military hopes to complete the withdrawal, U.S. officials said.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki praised the Afghans as “brave people” and said the Biden administration wanted to “recognize the important role they have played in the 20 years that U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan.

The imminent departure of the last foreign soldiers from Afghanistan has rekindled the concerns of the interpreters, drivers and subcontractors who assisted the U.S. military. They fear reprisals against them by the Taliban, who are about to take power in the country.

With the Taliban’s rapid advance, the fate of the 18,000 or so Afghans eligible for the special visa program is becoming more urgent, according to France24 television. Together with their families, the number to be evacuated could exceed 80,000, but only a small fraction of potential applicants have applied for visas.

Time is running out. The evacuation is accelerating amid a worsening security situation and fears that Kabul airport will be closed.

On Tuesday, the French Embassy in Kabul urgently appealed to all French citizens to leave Afghanistan, announcing that a special flight to Paris, to be chartered on July 17, will be the only such flight for the French community in Afghanistan.