98 countries pledged to accept Afghan refugees, including US & South Korea

China and Russia were not among the countries.

Jean Chien Tay | August 31, 2021, 12:51 AM

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The U.S. and 97 other countries have said that they will continue to receive people who are fleeing Afghanistan, in a joint statement issued on Aug. 29.

The countries also said that they have "received assurances from the Taliban" that there will be safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans with travel authorisation who wish to leave Afghanistan.

According to the joint statement, the countries involved will "continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans" and allow them to travel to the respective countries, with the expectation that the Taliban will keep their word.

One of Taliban's leading figures, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, said on Aug. 27 that Afghans with valid documents will be able to travel in and out of the country in the future, reported Reuters.

The statement did not warn of any consequences should the Taliban fail to honour the agreement, although a senior U.S. State Department official said that incentives such as foreign aid could be used to enforce it, as per The New York Times (NYT).

U.S. officials also reportedly said that a diplomatic mission was "expected" to be set up in another country in the region, partly to help refugees obtain necessary travel documents.

China and Russia missing from joint statement

Meanwhile, two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council were notably missing from the joint statement -- China and Russia.

Both have previously pledged to help the Taliban "rebuild" Afghanistan, The Times reported.

Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly said that they will not accept refugees from Afghanistan for fear of militants entering the country under the disguise of refugees, according to Newsweek.

According to the NYT, the U.S. has evacuated more than 114,400 people from Afghanistan, with the majority being Afghans.

The UK government announced plans to welcome 5,000 Afghan refugees this year, and to resettle a total of 20,000 Afghans in the coming years, with priority given to women and girls, minorities, and those who are most at risk of "human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment" by the Taliban.

Uganda, one of the countries in the joint statement, will take in 2,000 Afghan refugees, reported the BBC. The country, which is known for being refugee-friendly, is currently home to more than 1.3 million refugees.

South Korea, one of the U.S.' strategic allies in Asia, welcomed approximately 390 people, despite not having an extensive history of welcoming foreigners. Children were given teddy bears, and met with welcome banners at Incheon International Airport, as per The Washington Post.

Taliban: Afghans need travel documents to leave

Delivering his statement on Aug. 27, Taliban's negotiator Stanikzai said that they have "no issues" with Afghans traveling abroad for medical, business, education, and other reasons, according to the NYT.

Stanikzai further elaborated that Afghans who wish to leave the country will have to obtain passports from the government and secure necessary travel documents for their country of destination.

The NYT described it as a time-consuming process, which may also alert the Taliban of the people who do not wish to live under their rule, and therefore potentially invite retaliation.

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