The first flight evacuating Afghans who worked alongside Americans in Afghanistan has arrived in the United States. The plane touched down in Dulles, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., last Friday.
The flight carried former interpreters and others who worked with American servicemembers and civilians. They fear retaliation from Afghanistan’s Taliban. A special visa program allows them to resettle in the United States. Family members came too. The 221 Afghans on the flight included 57 children and 15 babies.
“I want to thank these brave Afghans for standing with the United States, and today, I am proud to say to them: ‘Welcome home,’” President Biden said in a statement. He also honored military veterans, diplomats, and others who advocated for the Afghans.
The Biden administration calls the effort “Operation Allies Refuge.” Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers and veterans groups have backed the operation. Taliban forces have targeted Afghans who worked with Americans or with the Afghan government.
A similar story can be found in Joshua 2 and 6. Rahab helped the Israelite spies in Canaan. In return, they rescued her and her family when the Israelites conquered Jericho.
The arrivals’ first stop was Fort Lee, Virginia. They had to complete medical exams and other final steps. Next they will move to communities around the United States. Resettlement organizations will help them. Some will join family members already here.
Later flights will bring more Afghans. There are about 700 more applicants close to getting visas. Those applicants have already won approval and cleared security screening.
President Biden announced earlier this year the U.S. would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11. (Read US to Withdraw from Afghanistan.) The Taliban has taken over more territory in the countryside since then.
President Biden says that although U.S. troops are leaving, the United States will keep supporting Afghanistan. The country will provide security assistance to Afghan forces and aid to the Afghan people.
Seventy thousand other Afghans have resettled in the United States since 2008. Congress on Thursday approved legislation that would allow an additional 8,000 visas and $500 million in funding for the Afghan visa program.
(Josh Habib, far left, a translator for the U.S. Marines, speaks with Afghan villagers and two Marines in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on July 2, 2009. AP/David Guttenfelder)