August 17, 2021 – 23:31
Northern Macedonia will accept 450 Afghans fleeing the Taliban and shelter them until the US special visa application process is completed.
The men are workers and family members of Afghans who have worked in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, human rights activists, journalists, translators and students, the Macedonian government said in a statement on August 17th.
Skopje has said it will also accept Afghans “who have supported NATO troops for the past 20 years, including the Army of Northern Macedonia”, which has contributed troops to US-led coalition forces. – in Afghanistan in the period 2002-2008.
A number of transfer operations are currently underway at Kabul International Airport for people who are extremely feared by the Taliban regime.
Most of them worked with the Americans or other NATO countries, as translators or in other roles, during the nearly 20-year war.
Most of the 450 Afghans heading to northern Macedonia are expected to arrive in the country by the end of the week, depending on conditions at Kabul airport, the statement said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs in Northern Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, has said that the quarantine measure will depend on the vaccination status of these people against the coronavirus.
In addition to northern Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania have also expressed readiness to welcome Afghans fleeing their country.
Authorities in both countries have confirmed that they have discussed with the US authorities their housing, although it is not yet known exactly how many people will be housing them.
The first group of Afghans is expected to arrive in Albania on Wednesday.
Authorities have confirmed that they will be sheltered in Tirana and Durres.
The Taliban claimed victory on August 15 after seizing control of the capital, Kabul, after nearly 20 years of ending the military presence of US-led forces.
The government has fallen and President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country.
His whereabouts are still unknown.
U.S. troops are patrolling Kabul International Airport as desperate residents try to flee the country.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, saying that “the mission was never aimed at state-building.”
“I am very saddened by the facts we now face, but I do not regret my decision to end the war in Afghanistan,” Biden said in a speech to the nation on August 16.
“Americans cannot and should not die and fight in a war that Afghans are not ready to fight for themselves,” said President Biden.
According to him, the national interest of the United States in Afghanistan has always been primarily in preventing terrorist attacks.
The US president has said the Afghan government failed to listen to his advice and negotiate a political solution with the Taliban, adding that the collapse of the Afghan government happened much sooner than his administration had expected.
US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in October 2001.
The Taliban have been harboring Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures in connection with the September 11 attacks in the United States.
US President Joe Biden has said the US withdrawal is now reasonable, as US forces are assured that Afghanistan will no longer become a base for foreign jihadists to carry out plots against the West. / REL