World Guam wants say in safe zone for US-bound Afghan allies
Anger mounts as Australia declines to fast-track plans to save ‘our’ Afghan translators from Taliban retribution
While the UK announces a plan to speed up repatriation of Afghan translators and support staff before Western troops withdraw, Australian politicians are sitting on their hands.But just days after Britain announced a new plan to accelerate the repatriation of Afghan staff following the withdrawal, Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed at Senate estimates that there was no new approach from Australia to bring locally engaged employees in Afghanistan here. Now, the Morrison government is under fire for not doing enough to assure their safe resettlement in Australia.
Guam offered Sunday to temporarily house thousands of Afghans being evacuated from their country as part of the US troop withdrawal, but insisted it be consulted on the planning.
In a letter to US President Joe Biden, Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said she needed to be certain "these decisions reflect the best interests of our people".
US troops are expected to be out of Afghanistan by September 11 but lawmakers say it could take more than two years to process US visas for about 18,000 Afghan allies and their families.
The keeper of Afghanistan’s poetic past
Behind the walls of Kabul Public Library, an 81-year-old poet kept the tradition and spirit of Afghan Sufi poetry alive.“Afghan poetry is both subtle and profound, hinting at notions of spiritualism, and an Afghan sense of the transcendental,” muses 81-year-old poet Ghulam Haidar Haidari Wujodi as he hunches over his desk nestled between teetering towers of books on the library’s top floor.
There are fears that if they remain in Afghanistan they will suffer retaliation from the Taliban.
Veterans and human rights advocates have urged Washington to relocate the Afghans to Guam as a safe zone until their special immigrant visas are processed.
"I assure you that my administration is prepared to assist in executing your plans on this matter should Guam be chosen," Leon Guerrero said in her letter.
"If such a decision is made, I respectfully ask that I be part of critical discussions concerning Guam's role and any related task force should one be established.
"Due to the gravity and urgency of this matter, I would like to speak with you soon."
There has been mixed reaction in Guam to the possibility of again being used as an evacuation destination, after the Pacific US territory took in Vietnamese refugees in 1975 before they were resettled in the United States.
US weighs attacks if Kabul at risk of falling to Taliban: Report
The US is reportedly considering sending in drones or warplanes in extraordinary crisis after Afghanistan withdrawal.The report comes as the US continues its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, with the Pentagon expected to conclude the pullout in early July, well before the September 11 deadline. A NATO-led coalition is also withdrawing its troops from the country.
"I don't understand the reason to bring them to Guam. Guam is a small island," said 49-year-old Joseph Meyers.
"How many Afghans are we talking about? If just dozens, maybe that won't be so bad but if we are talking thousands, I don't think we can handle it."
But Nadia Holm, 40, said the United States had a responsibility to protect those who had assisted American forces.
"They have been loyal to the US. Their lives are at risk and we should protect them from harm," she said.
Michael San Nicolas, Guam's delegate to the US Congress, said any evacuation plan must include a condition that the refugees are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Taliban Aiming to Take Afghanistan Areas After US Troops are Withdrawn, UN Envoy Says .
The Taliban may be aiming to claim Afghanistan's provincial capitals once U.S. military forces are withdrawn by Sept. 11, U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said.When Biden announced the remaining troops' departure in April, he claimed that the U.S. had accomplished its goals of weakening Al-Qaida and fighting other terrorist threats. However, Lyons cited rising violence from the Taliban in the past year and recent escalating military activity from the group as cause for concern, the Associated Press reported.