The first flight evacuating Afghans who worked for the US government in Afghanistan took more than 200 people to the United States and President Joe Biden welcomed them home.
“Today is an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years in Afghanistan,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden said that these first Afghans are able to come directly to the United States because they have already completed extensive background checks and security screening by the Intelligence Community and the Departments of State and Homeland Security.
They will complete the final steps of their visa applications and required medical checks at Fort Lee, in Virginia, before traveling onward to begin their new lives in the United States, the statement said.
“I want to honor all those in the United States who have spoken out on behalf of these brave Afghans, including the proud community of veterans, who have consistently advocated for the Afghans who were by their side in the field in Afghanistan, often serving as translators and interpreters,” Biden said.
He said that although US troops are leaving, the United States will continue to support Afghanistan through security assistance to Afghan forces, as well as humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people to help them sustain their achievements of the past 20 years.
“We will also continue our diplomatic support for the peace process,” Biden said. “We call for an immediate reduction in violence in Afghanistan, and for all regional actors to encourage the parties to return to negotiations without delay so that the Afghan people can achieve a durable and just political settlement that brings the peace and security they deserve.”