Afghan evacuees fleeing Taliban face months more limbo in UAE: US official

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Thousands of Afghans who fled when their country was seized by the Taliban last year face months more in limbo in the United Arab Emirates, a senior US official said Friday.

About 12,000 people have already endured a frustrating wait in the United Arab Emirates capital since the evacuations started in August, when the United States ended its 20-year occupation.

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But a senior State Department official, who asked to remain anonymous, said it would take months to clear the two Abu Dhabi centers, which include accommodation built for migrant workers.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’d be very nice to have it finished by August,” the official said. “But honestly, I can’t tell you.”

The process has been so slow that the exact number of evacuees in Abu Dhabi remain unclear. A survey of the inhabitants, only cleared to go ahead by UAE officials this year, is still being completed.

“I told them I was really sorry it was taking so long, that I was as frustrated as they were,” said the official, after visiting the Abu Dhabi evacuees.

“Several thousand” can hope for resettlement in the US but “very, very, very many of the people came here with no reference to the United States,” the official said.

Their path to a host country remains unclear, but the official was confident they would not be “forcibly returned” to Afghanistan, which would be considered illegal.

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