WAM UAE Afghans-1646408245358
The UAE received humanitarian evacuees from Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds. File photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: WAM/archive

Abu Dhabi: Several thousand Afghan evacuees in the UAE will soon begin the processing required for resettlement in the United States, a senior American State Department official said in the capital on Friday.

Systems to enable the processing, including security vetting, biometric information, medical checks and interviews, have now been set up in Abu Dhabi, and a survey is underway to determine who and how many of the Afghan evacuees can be resettled in the United States.

“The survey is a prerequisite for the [resettlement] process … we will be finishing the survey over the next couple of days, and we then have to analyse [the data],” the senior official said.

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Afghan evacuees

Thousands of Afghanis fled from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of their country in August 2021. The UAE welcomed a number of them, and State Department officials said about 12,000 are currently being housed at two facilities in the UAE capital, including at the Emirates Humanitarian City (EHC).

Speaking to media on Friday at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the senior US official said that 85,000 Afghans have already been resettled in the United States since August 2021, including 6,400 who had initially came to the UAE.

“We are doing a survey right now to understand how many Afghans are [here] so that we can understand who has a pipeline to the United States,” the senior official said.

UAE cooperation

“We have been able to depend on, and receive, excellent cooperation from the UAE government in order to set up those processes. For instance, we can take [the evacuees] from the EHC to the US Embassy for the visa interviews. The government of the UAE has also set up, for us in EHC, a heavy Internet load system that is needed for this detailed medical processing and 14 vaccinations that the Centres of Disease Control in the United States has demanded [for resettlement purposes],” the official added.

Meeting with evacuees

During its ongoing visit, the State Department delegation has also met with evacuees at the EHC to discuss any concerns.

“I would say 90 per cent of the questions we received were about why [the resettlement] is taking so long, and why they cannot leave and go somewhere where they can earn money and send it to their families in Afghanistan. The questions were about logistical arrangements. I could not tell them when they would [finally be able to leave] but our goal is to finish [this resettlement from Abu Dhabi] by August. The process is complicated, [but] we are doing our best to speed it up,” the senior official explained.

The official also expressed gratitude for the ‘partnership and collaboration’ from the UAE government thus far.

“In the visits we have made [to the EHC] in the last two days, we have seen the pre-school in action, and the space or the session for the older kids to be in school. They are increasing the teachers, they are hiring. We saw two sets of medical facilities and people being treated, as in we saw them go in and we saw their intake sheet. I’ve also had reports from Afghans that if there is medical emergency they are taken to a good hospital,” the official said.