Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’s Mara Rudman on the Situation in Afghanistan
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’s Mara Rudman on the Situation in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. — Mara Rudman, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement on the situation in Afghanistan:

The events that have unfolded in Afghanistan over the past several days are tragic. The images of terrified Afghans crowding the Kabul airport in a desperate attempt to flee, while Taliban leaders occupy the presidential palace, bring pain to the Afghan people, to those who served and sacrificed in Afghanistan, and to the world.

What exists now in Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis, and America’s commitment must not end with the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces. CAP has detailed three pragmatic steps that the United States should take, consistent with our values, to mitigate further losses, including protecting the many in Afghanistan whose lives are at risk due to their association with the United States and its allies. This includes interpreters, embassy professionals, women’s rights activists, human rights activists, journalists, and judges, among others.

Beyond the near-term evacuation of at-risk individuals, the Biden administration must work with international partners to develop a comprehensive, human rights-centered plan to protect the forcibly displaced in Afghanistan and mitigate a refugee crisis. As CAP has just laid out, this plan should have four primary components. To start, the United States should surge resources to address displacement today and immediately evacuate Afghans who are eligible for special immigrant visas and other forms of U.S. assistance. It should plan for future waves of displaced families, using all pressure available to ensure that the Taliban grants safe passage to those attempting to seek safety. The United States should also prioritize working with countries who will host fleeing Afghans, including Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey, and ensuring that these governments continue to admit refugees, recognize asylum claims, protect their rights, and allow humanitarian aid to reach new arrivals. The United States must lead by example to spur global responsibility sharing by significantly raising the refugee cap and ensuring that the fiscal year 2022 ceiling can fit the needs of Afghans as well as other refugee emergencies happening around the world. Finally, America should lean into global cooperation to strengthen the international system that can help Afghans and others who are forcibly displaced, working to reform the international system by calling for strengthened rights protections for refugees and the forcibly displaced. Financial support will be required to achieve all of these goals, and as others have recommended, CAP also encourages the Biden administration to appoint a special envoy for Afghan humanitarian and refugee issues and supports efforts at the United Nations to create a counterpart special envoy to marshal international resources.

While it is too late to forestall the crisis that has already occurred, the Biden administration must now act swiftly to prevent an even greater catastrophe in Afghanistan. Such efforts are necessary to promote peace and stability in the region and protect democratic values and institutions.

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For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected].