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'Important Milestone': First Flight of Afghan Evacuees Lands in US, Biden Says

Admin 30-Jul-2021 World_News

In mid-June, the Biden administration signalled its readiness to start evacuation flights for Afghan interpreters and translators who aided the US military effort in Afghanistan.

The first flight of Afghan interpreters and their families evacuated from Afghanistan has arrived in the US, President Joe Biden said in a statement on Friday. 

"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 stressed. 

According to an internal US government document obtained by the AP news agency, an aircraft with 221 Afghans, including 57 children and 15 babies on board, landed at Washington Dulles International Airport in the early hours of Friday.

The news agency cited unnamed American officials as saying that the evacuees are expected to stay at the Fort Lee Army Base near Washington, DC, for several days to complete the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process.

The SIV programme is offered to those who cooperated with the US government or American-led military forces during the war in Afghanistan. Last week, the US State Department claimed the total number of SIV applicants stands at more than 20,000.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier declined to elaborate on how many Afghans would be evacuated during the first flight or where the evacuees would be taken, citing security concerns. 

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