US envoy apologises to stranded Afghan refugees in UAE

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A senior US diplomat has apologised to thousands of Afghan refugees stranded in the UAE months after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, acknowledging that many of them might never enter America.

After meeting with the refugees, the diplomat and other officials spoke to journalists on the condition they not be identified, citing the “sensitive and ongoing natures of the issues discussed.”

Expressing his personal frustration about delays, the envoy also acknowledged that some of the refugees — including journalists and prosecutors — might never get US visas.

The stranded Afghans have held protests over their uncertain situation.

“The problem is nobody knows what’s going on,” said Ahmad Shah Mohibi, the founder of a group called Rise to Peace, which has been trying to help the refugees.

“The US has a moral obligation” to help them. Around 12,000 Afghans remain in Abu Dhabi, with some 10,000 at Emirates Humanitarian City and another 2,000 at Tasameem Workers City in the capital, Mohibi said.

They represent a cross-section of those who fled the Taliban’s lightning advance in August, including journalists, judges, prosecutors, LGBT rights activists and religious and ethnic minorities, he said.

Among those in Abu Dhabi are former soldiers who identify themselves as belonging to so-called “Zero” Units. There are about 2,500 of them, including family members.  Evacuation flights had been going on until November, but then suddenly stopped, leaving the thousands stranded in Abu Dhabi. There are tens of thousands more still stuck in Afghanistan.

The senior US official also said that two measles outbreaks among the refugees, concerns over coronavirus vaccinations and later, CDC demands for full medical examinations had slowed down the process of getting Afghans to the US. (Source: Arab News)

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