The United States has a “moral obligation” to ensure the evacuation of Afghan allied personnel, including interpreters, from Kabul, says former Afghan interpreter Ahmadullah Sediqi, as President Joe Biden’s self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline to leave Afghanistan nears.
Sediqi, who served as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan for four years, came to the United States in 2014 under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which was created to protect Afghan allies who risked their lives helping U.S. troops in the country. He now works with the nonprofit No One Left Behind as an SIV ambassador to help other interpreters with their SIV process.
With time running out ahead of Biden’s deadline to withdraw remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and the president facing growing criticism amid reports of chaos and occasional violence outside of Kabul’s international airport, vulnerable Afghans who fear a vengeful crackdown by the Taliban terrorist group are voicing desperate pleas to not be left behind.
Sediqi told NTD’s “The Nation Speaks” that the United States has a moral obligation to offer safe refuge to Afghans who assisted the United States and its allies in Afghanistan.
“It’s not only the interpreters, but their families, their siblings, their parents [who] are still waiting in Afghanistan. I’m here, but my family, my siblings are in Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s our moral, legal duty to help those who have risked their lives alongside the U.S. forces.”
The Pentagon has said that the U.S. military will fly up to 30,000 people out of Kabul, including embassy personnel, U.S. citizens, Afghan SIV applicants, and other at-risk individuals.
Of that total, 8,000 will be transported to a third country for visa processing, with the other 22,000 headed for the United States. Advocates estimate that there are between 50,000 to 80,000 Afghans and their family members applying for SIVs and evacuation, of which the Biden administration has thus far only evacuated a fraction.
Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15, Sediqi said he has been constantly receiving messages from Afghan interpreters who are “so worried” and asking for help to flee the country.
“The current situation is scary,” he said, noting that he was informed recently that two interpreters were killed by the Islamic extremist group. “The Taliban are extremist and they are the same people that they were in 1996. They don’t want to leave anybody. When they catch you, they will kill you.”