US planning to resume Afghanistan flights

The US State Department plans to resume evacuation flights from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The move would help American citizens, residents and some visa applicants leave the country.

The small number of American citizens and thousands of Afghans left behind after the chaotic evacuation effort in the final weeks of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

“As soon as we have the right combination of documentation and logistics, we will get going again,” a senior State Department official said.

According to the official, the State Department is continuing to process visa applications so more people can become eligible for the flights.

“Until the airport is reopened, I think all we have to deal with really is charter flights, because regular airlines are going to find it very difficult to pay the insurance premiums that are required or be willing to fly into Afghanistan,” the official added.

The State Department estimated in September that fewer than 200 Americans who wanted to leave were left behind; some of those have since departed the country. Nongovernmental organizations say the number is higher.

The Taliban entered the Afghan capital of Kabul in mid-August, which led to the collapse of the previous Western-backed government, and mass evacuations of foreigners and nationals seeking to escape Afghanistan in fear of the movement. The evacuation operation was completed on August 31 along with the pullout of international forces. During massy, last-minute evacuations, a limited number of Afghans, who had previously worked for the international forces during their deployment in Afghanistan, managed to leave the country in evacuation flights.

The administration of President Joe Biden has been under pressure from lawmakers, veterans and other advocates to do more to help Afghans left behind. The U.S. and its allies airlifted almost 100,000 Afghans out of the country during a two-week operation in August after the Taliban seized power, according to the Centre For Immigration Studies, a nonprofit. State Department officials have announced most applicants for a visa program for former Afghan U.S. military and government workers were left behind.

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