Afghans protest the delayed US relocation process in Abu Dhabi on 10 February.
(Photo credit: Reuters)
Hundreds of Afghan refugees demonstrated for the third day in a row in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in protest of the slow pace of their resettlement to western countries.
The refugees were told that some of them might never be allowed into the United States.
In videos posted online, one protester said they had “only one request:” that their fate be clarified six months after they are brought to the UAE from Kabul.
Protesters say the situation is “like a prison” and that a number of Afghans have been detained by Emirati officials following the start of the protests.
One of the protesters told Reuters that on 10 February US embassy officials visited the center where they are kept and informed them that there was no fixed timetable for their transfer, and that it would be unlikely that all Afghan refugees would be transferred to the United States.
In addition to US citizens and Green Card holders, local Afghans who worked with US troops, and individuals at risk were given priority for transfer to the US.
Estimates indicate that there are about 12,000 Afghan refugees living in two makeshift shelters in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, a source in the US State Department confirmed that many Afghans had participated in peaceful protests and that US government officials had met with Afghans this week to discuss their concerns about the resettlement process.
The spokesperson stated that the US is still screening and verifying vulnerable Afghans and that a “safe and orderly” passage to the US would be enabled for those who qualify.
The Taliban leadership in Afghanistan recently condemned the Biden administration plan to utilize billions of dollars in frozen Afghan assets to compensate victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks as “stealing.”
On 11 February, the New York Times reported that US President Biden is set to sign an executive order that will allow the use of 50 percent of the over $7 billion of Afghan funds that are currently being held in US banks to compensate the families of the 11 September attacks.