Uncertainty Continues for Many Unaccompanied Afghan Children Evacuated to the United States

Kabul International Airport, photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan is causing major problems for Afghans, including 1,450 children who were evacuated as unaccompanied minors fleeing the Taliban, a militant group that has regained control of the country. 

When President Biden declared the withdrawal of troops in August 2021, the Taliban–who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001—took over the country again, causing many Afghans to flee for fear of being harmed in revenge attacks. Afghans worry the Taliban will reimpose restrictive laws such as barring women from attending school, working or even walking down the street without a male family member.

During a mass evacuation of 56,000 people by U.S. troops, the Taliban bombed the Kabul International Airport. More than 40% of the evacuees were children, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The majority of evacuated children are currently in foster care or with family members living in the United States. However, as of December 2021, the U.S. government still had custody of approximately 250 children, according to CNN. A ProPublica report stated that the facilities caring for these children have never experienced this level of stress and disorganization. It is feared that many of these children will never be reunited with their families.

The procedure for reuniting these kids with their families who are still in Afghanistan or other countries remains unclear, according to advocates, like Jennifer Podkul, vice president of policy and advocacy for Kids in Need of Defense, an organization that helps unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. “Whose job is it to reunite the parent and child?” Podkul asked on CNN. “That’s a huge question that we’re grappling with.”

The government is still trying to locate many Afghan parents in order to reunite them with their children. 

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