The wrong plane out of Afghanistan

9/2/2022 6:52:00 AM

He got on the wrong plane out of Afghanistan. Now he, like many, may never reach the U.S.

He got on the wrong plane out of Afghanistan. Now he, like many, may never reach the U.S.

For Afghans, an evacuation last year was not necessarily a path to refuge in the United States, as many expected. And it may never be for thousands of evacuees who landed in third countries.

for a certain number of Afghan political emigrants who have the United States as their final destination,” later said there was never an agreed-upon timeline for those departures.The organizations ranged from the Hillary Clinton-founded Vital Voices to the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. military-allied Spirit of America and even FIFA.

By December, 485 of the Rafaelo’s 657 rooms were occupied by more than 1,700 Afghans, said Bledar Shima, the hotel’s general manager, and the Rafaelo had come to resemble a contained Afghan community.For a while, the Rafaelo was simply a relief. The Afghans there had escaped the

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Ya know, any democratic country is better than Afghanistan! They should be thankful! Or they can go back to Afghanistan where their (female) children will be slaves, wear black burkas all day and have no education. America can't solve every persons problems or support the world!

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isabel magowan photographs the dark side of american gilded youthThe twenty-something artist is interested in the moments when upper-class perfection goes wrong.

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the airport at the right time."Biden should immediately reverse his executive order," said one humanitarian.TWEET In one of Isabel Magowan's most striking photographs, three little girls in pastel leotards and hair bows do the splits in front of an actual white picket fence, the kind that you see in Greenwich and St.The Florida Highway Patrol said the plane crashed into the backyard of a home near Eastwood and Poole roads near the Hilliard Airpark around 10:30 a.

Certainly, the groups who arrived in Albania would be resettled the same way, Kander reasoned. Rama, who had initially said that Albania was to serve as a “ transit place for a certain number of Afghan political emigrants who have the United States as their final destination,” later said there was never an agreed-upon timeline for those departures.S. But he decided early on that he was not going to put them in a refugee camp. A former ballerina from Manhattan, Magowan was thinking about the baby swans of Swan Lake when she shot these beautiful, sinister portraits of American dolls at play. He wanted to give them dignity and calm, he said." Brett Wilkins August 30, 2022 The United Nations aid chief on Monday led calls for a resumption of the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan that ended after the Taliban reconquered the war-ravaged nation one year ago—pleas that came as six million Afghans face famine and the Biden administration continues to refuse to return billions of dollars in frozen funds. He wanted to give them “what we wanted when we were the Afghans once upon a time. The pilot told Nassau County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Nassau County Fire Rescue that his plane stalled, which caused the crash.

” The towering beach hotels of Shëngjin, which clear out for the winter months, seemed perfect.S. As a child Isabel would visit her grandmother, where there was a main house called Swan House (with swan-shaped salt and pepper shakers) and a guest house called Cygnets. And the Rafaelo Resort, a sprawling five-building, three-pool retreat on the water that can accommodate 2,300 guests, said it would house most of them. The accommodation was conditional. For millions of Afghans facing starvation, the war never ended. The Rafaelo signed agreements with the American nonprofits and affiliates that brought the Afghans to Albania, with each group pledging to cover the room and board for its evacuees for a daily charge of about $30 per person. That violent underbelly to picturesque settings is part of all of Isabel's pictures. The organizations ranged from the Hillary Clinton-founded Vital Voices to the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.N.

S. military-allied Spirit of America and even FIFA. Noting that the U." There's a rich tradition of elegant women defecting from society to make art about it. An Afghan brother and sister ride a bus back to Shëngjin from a nearby town. An Afghan evacuee shops for vegetables at a market in Lezhë.'s Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan is currently facing a more than $3 billion shortfall, Griffiths called on donors to immediately provide $754 million in aid to help Afghans survive the coming winter. A pair of Afghan siblings shop for halal meat in Lezhë. Most of Isabel's pictures feature people she knows: her parents, her little cousins, her best friends.

By December, 485 of the Rafaelo’s 657 rooms were occupied by more than 1,700 Afghans, said Bledar Shima, the hotel’s general manager, and the Rafaelo had come to resemble a contained Afghan community."More than half of the population—some 24 million people—need humanitarian assistance. It was their “own sort of village,” said Alyse Nelson, the president and CEO of Vital Voices, who visited her organization’s group of about 1,100 Afghans at the hotel last November. Children kicked soccer balls across the pool deck. They include over one million children estimated to be suffering from the most severe, life-threatening form of malnutrition.' It's some weird upper middle class sensibility in terms of the themes that I'm interested in, that does have to do with my upbringing, like vanity, materialism, desire. Families strolled the empty boardwalk, and shopped for groceries in the nearby town of Lezhë. The university student, who shared a suite with his brother, sister and sister-in-law, forged friendships with other young Afghans." Griffiths continued: This malnutrition crisis is fueled by recurrent drought, including the worst in three decades in 2021, and whose effects are still lingering.

Various organizations set up a health clinic, as well as educational and counseling services on the hotel’s ground floor. When her picture-perfect ballet career ended (complete with multiple hip surgeries and soul searching), she had to figure out who she was. For a while, the Rafaelo was simply a relief. Around 25 million people are now living in poverty and three quarters of people's income is spent on food. The Afghans there had escaped the Taliban . They had food, shelter and safety. "So these relentless layers of crisis persist at a time when communities are already struggling," Griffiths added." So she started taking pictures. An evacuee in her 20s began teaching kids at the hotel how to skateboard.

Artists worked on murals.9-magnitude earthquake affected over 360,000 people living in high-intensity impact areas. Teachers led classes for evacuee children and adults. And a few culinary entrepreneurs began selling prepared food in town." Because the Taliban—which fought for two decades to oust U. But months passed, and no one at the Rafaelo seemed to be getting “processed” for their new lives in America. Then, in December, the State Department delivered some news: Anyone who left Afghanistan on a charter before Aug.-led forces and the coalition-backed Afghan government in a war that over 170,000 lives—is not formally recognized by any nation and is under international sanctions, it is difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance to the country.

31 and was waiting in Albania or another country would be included in Operation Allies Welcome — meaning they were eligible for U.S.S. resettlement. But the news applied only to a minority of the Rafaelo Afghans. Despite from economists and humanitarians, the Biden administration continues to withhold around $7 billion in Afghan central bank funds stored in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Most had left Afghanistan on chartered flights after Aug.

31 — when military flights were no longer an option.S. If they wished to come to America, they would have to try their luck through the complex and backlogged U.S.S. immigration system or refugee program. Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement Advertisement Suddenly, many — along with their organization sponsors — realized they had no clear pathway to the United States. However, another judge can decide whether to accept that conclusion.

The news coincided with a sudden, tragic death in the student’s family in Afghanistan, and the young group felt hopeless and scared. It was their first time away from home. They were all under 25. “We didn’t know what [we] should we do,” he said. His sister began sobbing so incessantly and uncontrollably that they made multiple trips to the public hospital in nearby Lezhë, and their U.

S. citizen brother scrounged up the money to visit them in Albania. The despair reverberated around the resort. “What happens if our cases are rejected? What shall we do in Afghanistan? We lost everything,” said Parigul Nabizadah, a teacher who had worked for a D.C.

-based nonprofit, the American Councils for International Education, and was evacuated with her husband and two young children. “What will happen to us if we go back?” At its peak, the majority of the Rafaelo Resort's 657 rooms were occupied by more than 1,700 Afghan evacuees. The former interpreter pays for his family to take an online English class five nights a week, in the hopes of preparing them for lives in the United States. The three Afghan siblings do not know when or if they will be allowed to join their brother, a U.S.

citizen, in the United States. Not long after that, Kander’s Afghan Rescue Project told the hotel it had run out of money — and it stopped paying its bills. “Just to be clear: Everybody knew this was coming. We had a finite amount of money,” said Javad Khazaeli, the group’s attorney. The hotel says the Afghan Rescue Project now owes it well over $2 million for the 380 people it signed on to sponsor.

The Afghan Rescue Project says the U.S. government, which in December approved a $7 billion bill to fund Afghan resettlement, should be responsible for the bill. And the State Department said that will not happen. “The U.

S. government has no responsibility for these people,” said a senior State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity under guidelines set by the department. The organizations signed letters to support their evacuees in Albania, the official said. “The U.S.

taxpayer isn’t going to take over.” “What should we do? Should we give them only one meal per day?” said Shima, the hotel manager. That wouldn’t be fair, he said. “They are victims too.” But there’s also a limit.

“How long can someone afford to give hotel [rooms] for free?” Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement Advertisement The Biden administration says it never encouraged the American groups to take their people to Albania, and that it sent a clear message last fall that any private entity evacuating Afghans would bear responsibility for them — and that those Afghans would not have a guaranteed path to the United States. But veterans, U.S. service members, and others — including officials — who took part in the evacuation, said the collaboration of people across government and the civilian sector amid the rush of the evacuation also blurred the lines of expectation. “We were all working our contacts in these networks of people both inside the government and outside the government that were teaming up to get people out of Kabul,” said Rep.

Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a former CIA and Pentagon official. “Those days were so chaotic … you just had people across the world who were trying to do right by the people who risked their lives to help us.” In her struggle to evacuate Afghans she had worked with, Slotkin instructed a staffer to “Google all the ambassadors” to the few countries that were taking Afghans. The U.

S. ambassador to Albania, Yuri Kim, had worked with Slotkin in Iraq. So Slotkin called her, pleading: “Yuri, you got to help me out here. I’ve got Afghans. I hear that Albania is willing to take them,” the congresswoman said.

The ambassador connected Slotkin with Rama. Slotkin collaborated with former national security adviser H.R. McMaster to arrange a charter. Kim and the Albanian foreign minister then met the flight on the tarmac, Slotkin said.

In the summer months, Shëngjin’s beach fills with lounge chairs and umbrellas packed in side by side. Tourists in skimpy swimsuits flood the resorts. Pop and techno music blasts at constant highs from restaurant speakers, and shops hawk sun hats and inflatable dolphin and turtle tubes. In the evenings, the vacationers throng the boardwalk, taking in the ice cream parlors, carnival games and live music. Shëngjin has long since lost the atmosphere of an Afghan village.

More than half of the Rafaelo’s original evacuee population has now departed — including Slotkin’s group, which had access to resettlement through Operation Allies Welcome because they left Afghanistan before Aug. 31. Even so, most of those who have left the Rafaelo have gone to Canada. Even some with strong U.S.

immigration cases found that Canada was simply quicker than the United States to offer them permanent resettlement, evacuees and their sponsors said. Nearly 800 Afghans remain. More than two dozen babies have been born in Albania since the group arrived. At least one person has died. And at least two families gave up and returned to Afghanistan, on-site coordinators for the groups said.

Soon, tourist season will give way to another quiet Shëngjin winter, and the evacuees wonder how many of them will still be there to see it. The evacuees did not expect to be here for the summer tourist season. Now, they face the possibility of another winter in Shëngjin. On Aug. 15 — the anniversary of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban — officials from the Departments of State and Homeland Security held a conference call with the organizations still sponsoring Afghans at the hotel.

“We told them we’ve decided to expand eligibility for consideration for entry into the United States,” said Elizabeth Jones, the State Department’s coordinator for Afghan relocation efforts. The cutoff was no longer Aug. 31. A team of officials would arrive in Albania in September to begin processing the remaining Afghans. The administration hopes that most will be in the United States by June 2023.

With each day in limbo, the student and his siblings worry they could ultimately have to return to Afghanistan. About this story Writing by Abigail Hauslohner. Ted Muldoon, Anja Troelenberg and Ilir Tsouko contributed to this report. Photos by Ilir Tsouko. Videos by Ilir Tsouko and Apostolis Giotopolous.

Design and development by Beth Broadwater. Editing by Efrain Hernandez Jr. Photo editing by Natalia Jimenez. Video editing by Jayne Orenstein. Copy editing by Dorine Bethea.

Additional editing by Madison Walls and Courtney Kan. Story by Abigail Hauslohner Abigail Hauslohner is a national security reporter at The Washington Post. In her decade at the newspaper, she has been a roving national correspondent, writing on topics ranging from immigration to political extremism and the pandemic, and she covered the Middle East as the Post's Cairo bureau chief. .