Roughly 1,300 children evacuated to U.S. from Afghanistan are waiting to be reunited with parents

Roughly 1,300 children evacuated to U.S. from Afghanistan are waiting to be reunited with parents

CBS News reported in August that at least 34 Afghan children were classified as “unaccompanied minors” after being evacuated to the U.S. without parents. In the months since the Biden administration evacuated tens of thousands of refugees as part of Operation Allies Rescue, the number of unaccompanied Afghan children here is now approximately 1,300, Health and Human Services (HHS) tells Reuters.

“Many of the Afghan minors were unintentionally separated from their parents in Kabul, advocates said,”  as reported by Reuters. Among them was 10-year-old Mansoor, who is currently living with relatives in Washington state. He was separated from his family while the Kabul airport was under attack.

Reuters reports that Mansoor was separated from his family as the Kabul airport was attacked with artillery fire. When the military rushed to shut the gates, Mansoon was caught inside, his parents and siblings outside. Mansoor was thankfully not alone, because a relative, Shogofa, had also made it inside the airport. They waited for Mansoor’s family for several days, but eventually had to evacuate. 

“Shogofa ended up on a U.S. military base in New Jersey with her own two young children, Mansoor, and other relatives. After several weeks, they joined her sister, Nilofar, who lives in the Seattle area,” the report said. “Mansoor’s parents are currently in hiding in Afghanistan because of his father’s former position in the Afghan government.”

Even though Mansoor traveled with a relative, he’s classified as an unaccompanied minor because that relative was not a parent. Reuters reports that, while the vast majority of Afghan unaccompanied minors have been released from HHS custody to relatives already here, 266 Afghan children currently remain in custody because they have no family here. “The children will likely have to find legal help to navigate the complex immigration system.”

Officials told Reuters that the “administration of President Joe Biden is working on ways to expedite the entry of parents whose children are already in the United States,” but advocates remain frustrated by delays. It’s nearly mid-November, and the weeks of uncertainty around the status of parents “is causing huge amounts of stress and trauma for the children, said Jennifer Vanegas, supervising attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.”

Nilofar told Reuters that Mansoor mostly keeps to himself. 15-year-old Sadam is staying with his uncle, also in Washington state. Sadam was similarly separated from his family at the Kabul airport when he went to go find water. “When Sadam came back with the water, his family was gone.” Soldiers then told him to board a plane, but he still wasn’t able to find them. Sadam does appear to be socializing with his cousins here, but the report said he regularly asks when he’ll see his parents. “I don’t know,” his uncle replies.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which has also advocated for Central American children fleeing to the U.S. for safety, last month issued guidance for protecting unaccompanied Afghan kids, writing they “have experienced extreme trauma in their flight from harm.” 

“We still do not know how many Afghan children will seek international protection, but we do know that early reports suggest that children are arriving in many countries, including the United States, some having lost their families forever, others having been separated from their loved ones in the chaos of fleeing their homeland,” KIND president Wendy Young said. “What the United States and other nations do now will determine the trajectory of these children’s lives. The United States has a responsibility to get this right.”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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