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When the U.S. withdrew its military from Afghanistan, it tried to evacuate as many American and Afghan civilians as it could — more than 123,000, by one count. Where will they go?
It makes sense to think they will go to neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran. But those two countries took in massive numbers of Afghans last year — 1.45 million and 780,000, respectively.
This year, Pakistan and Iran said they have already taken too many. The governments say refugees will be kept in camps near the border and eventually will have to return to Afghanistan.
Last year, Turkey took in almost 130,000 Afghan refugees, but this year it is building a border wall. It says it will not be “Europe’s migrant storage unit.”
There is also little appetite in many EU countries for taking too many refugees. The 2015 migrant crisis is fresh in their memories and they do not want to stoke another backlash.
But other countries are opening their doors. The U.K., Canada and Australia have promised to take in a total of more than 40,000 Afghan refugees. Even Japan, not known for accepting refugees, is talking about taking in hundreds more.
In the U.S., there is wide support for accepting Afghan refugees who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan. A poll in late August found 81% of people thought the U.S. should “help those Afghans come to the U.S.” State governors from both parties have promised to resettle them.
However, the U.S. hasn’t yet said how many Afghan refugees it will accept.
Afghans are already arriving in the U.S. Many are U.S. citizens or legal residents. Those who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan may qualify for a special visa. Whether they meet a warm welcome is another story. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.