Washington, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, and U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III urging the Biden Administration to accelerate the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Afghanistan, as well as Afghan nationals who served alongside U.S. forces, political and civic leaders, and their family members, including women and girls who are at an especially acute risk of political violence and retribution by the Taliban.
“The safety of U.S. citizens and government personnel is paramount, and we also have a moral imperative to rescue our Afghan partners who served alongside and supported U.S. forces over the last two decades,” the Chairs wrote. “To that end, we urge you to expedite your departments’ efforts to account for all American citizens who may remain in Afghanistan. In addition, the Biden Administration should make clear to the Taliban—in no uncertain terms—that they will face severe repercussions if they take any action that jeopardizes the security of U.S. military and civilian personnel at Hamid Karzai International Airport, limits or restricts safe passage to the airfield, or otherwise interferes with the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals.”
According to reports, as many as 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan, and President Biden recently stated that approximately 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans are awaiting evacuation assistance from the U.S. government.
In their letter, the Chairs stressed the importance of protecting Afghan women and girls who are especially vulnerable to political violence and retribution from the Taliban. In the days since returning to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban have reportedly flogged Afghan women and forced others to marry Taliban fighters.
“On Monday, President Biden told the American people that, following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, ‘[w]e’ll continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people, of women and girls, just as we speak out all over the world.’ That is an important step, but after twenty years of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the women and girls of Afghanistan, we have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure that women and girls who rose to prominence or sought to advance in Afghan society during the past two decades are not killed by the Taliban for doing so,” the Chairs continued.
Click here to read the letter.