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Thousands of Afghan Allies And Their Families Still Stranded In Afghanistan

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Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of Afghans who helped the United States government and military are still stranded in the Taliban-controlled country, according to a new report from the New York Post.

“The non-profit volunteer organization No One Left Behind says that it is tracking more than 10,000 Afghans who are either eligible for, applied for, or were approved for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) and have requested help getting out of Taliban-controlled territory,” the New York Post reported. “No One Left Behind also said that it is tracking another 38,000 family members of SIV holders or applicants who remain in Afghanistan and have asked for aid.”

“This is likely a limited picture with more that have not reached out to us, but it underscores the significant volume of people in dire need as winter approaches and Taliban control result[s] in food shortages and human rights abuses, including directly targeting those that helped US forces,” a director at No One Left Behind told the New York Post.

“We are working tirelessly to make sure these people are not left behind, and we will continue to advocate to the [US Government] that they expand the scope of their evacuations to include these American allies,” the director added.

According to the New York Post, Task Force Argo co-founder Jesse Jensen said that his organization is “dealing with a backlog of more than 4,000 people, including family members, who are looking to leave Afghanistan.”

Jensen, a former Army Ranger, stated that that the number of Afghans who want to leave the country is likely far above 4,000 since Task Force Argo had to stop accepting evacuation requests.

“We have really run out of resources in order to do this,” Jensen said. “We’ve had three flights that are paid for, you know we’ll likely have to claw back those funds to return to investors if we don’t see a path to getting these folks out of the country.”

The report comes just the Biden administration admitted that it left hundreds more Americans stranded in Afghanistan after the withdrawal than it previously claimed.

“[W]e believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave,” President Biden said on August 31. “Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan.”

However, since August 31, “the United States has directly assisted 479 American Citizens and 450 lawful permanent residents [in addition to their immediate families] to depart Afghanistan and relocate to the United States,” the State Department admitted in a press release.

According to the State Department, there are less than a dozen U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan who want to leave the terrorist-controlled country, are ready to depart, and have the necessary travel documents.

Last month, a report found that there were still 14,000 U.S. legal permanent residents stranded in Afghanistan at the time and at least 289 U.S. citizens.
Foreign Policy 
reported, “The State Department believes as many as 14,000 U.S. legal permanent residents remain in Afghanistan, Foreign Policy has learned, as the agency faces increasing scrutiny from Congress about the status of U.S. citizens and green card holders that are still stranded in the Taliban-controlled country.”

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International

State Department Orders Americans to Evacuate from Ukraine Embassy

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SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department has announced it will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from Kyiv’s U.S. Embassy this week. The travel advisory was published Sunday, signaling U.S. fears that Ukraine could be on the verge of a Russian invasion.

If an invasion occurs, the State Department could be thwarted in its ability to get to and assist Americans. The Department of State wrote:

“On January 23, 2022, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct-hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action…

…U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options…the security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

Axios reports Senior State Department officials told reporters on a briefing call that it was the “totality” of the Russian military buildup and threatening posture toward Ukraine over the last several months which led to the decision.

One official stated, “given that the President has said military action by Russia could come at any time, the U.S. government will not be in a position to evacuate U.S. citizens.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Friday with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

“We’re looking at what is visible to all, and it is deeds and actions, not words, that make the difference,” said Blinken, despite acknowledging that Lavrov had once again made an assurance that Russia has no intention of attacking Ukraine.

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China Warns Olympic Athletes Could Face Serious Consequences if they Speak Publicly on Human Rights

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Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games are prepared to begin February 4th in Beijing, but not without consequences. Chinese officials have issued a “warning” to all foreign athletes that they are “subject to certain punishment” if they speak “against the Olympic spirit.”

That “Olympic spirit” means politically speaking out about China. “Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment,” said Yan Shu, deputy director-general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOC).

National Review notes the Chinese Party’s suppression of speech is well known and many are concerned with consequences and punishments for political speech because of strict local laws. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the Olympic Charter Rule banning protesting at medal ceremonies would force athletes to follow “applicable public law.”

The Associated Press reports according to the IOC athletes can “enjoy freedom of speech” when speaking to journalists or posting to social media during the games. However, the committee expressed any measures that would protect athletes from Chinese persecution.

CBS Sports reports Global Athlete Group director general Rob Koehler suggested Olympians could suffer severe consequences if they criticize China, especially while in the country itself. “Silence is complicity and that’s why we have concerns,” said Koehler. “We know the human rights record and the allowance of freedom of expression in China, so there’s really not much protection” he added.

Last month White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the U.S. government delegation planned to boycott the Olympic Games over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, including the presumed detention of tennis star Peng Shuai.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. The athletes on team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games,” Psaki said.

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