Several Afghan refugees have already been sent to Kosovo, the officials said, but it is unclear what are the next steps to be taken with the individuals who failed the initial security screening, including whether they will be sent back to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
A U.S. official told the Associated Press on Saturday that the refugees will undergo further screening and processing with the intention of resettlement in the United States. Kosovo, an ardent U.S. ally, has agreed to host the refugees for up to a year.
“The process through which Afghans apply for special immigrant visas or refugee status in the U.S. is complex, and some applicants are still in the process of obtaining needed documents and providing all the information required to qualify under U.S law for immediate entry,” the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo said in a statement Saturday.
“Some media reports have left readers with the incorrect impression that the United States intends to transfer to Kosovo individuals whom U.S. authorities have deemed inadmissible to the United States. This is not the case,” the embassy said.
“The agreement between the United States and Kosovo allows the United States to temporarily host at Camp Bondsteel, a limited number of Afghan citizens whose applications require additional processing. This may involve such tasks as clarifying applicants’ identity, employment history, or other ties to the United States.”
Most Afghan evacuees are completing the clearing process in a matter of days at large transit sites in Qatar, Germany and Italy and then flown through Philadelphia or Washington Dulles airports for resettling in the U.S., the AP reported.
But a small number of refugees without any apparent eligibility for U.S. relocation as at-risk Afghans who were able to make it on planes during the chaotic U.S. military evacuation at Kabul airport between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31 will require further investigation at those transit sites, the AP said.
“Before anyone who is evacuated from Afghanistan comes to this country, they undergo a rigorous vet,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday. “Unless and until they complete that vet they will not be in a position to come to the U.S.”
But when pressed by reporters as to what happens to those who do not pass the vetting process, the State Department spokesman said at the time that he would not “detail publicly” what happens in those situations.
U.S. officials say they are also monitoring the involvement of Pakistan in crushing the military resistance to the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley, where the last remnants of former Afghan fighters, all of them U.S.-trained, attempted to launch a resistance to the Taliban.
According to well-placed CENTCOM sources, the Pakistani military staged an incursion into the Panjshir and is coordinating with the Taliban, using Pakistani Special Forces and drone strikes to take the main road into the Valley.
Caitlin McFall contributed reporting.
Author : Jessica Chasmar