Afghans Forced Back Home After Volunteer Group Runs Out of Money
- Task Force Argo, which connects Afghans with flights out of Afghanistan, said it’s run out of money.
- According to the Wall Street Journal, the volunteer group is now asking Afghans to return home.
- Afghans have tried to flee the country for months since the Taliban took over, fearing poverty and human rights issues.
A volunteer group that’s provided safe houses for desperate Afghans searching for a way out of Taliban-run Afghanistan has run out of money, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The group, Task Force Argo, has instructed hundreds of struggling Afghans to return to their homes because it’s no longer able to provide support for those seeking to flee the country. Task Force Argo has for months after the Taliban takeover provided flights out of the country. But with no financial support, the group at this time is forced to make drastic decisions like sending away Afghans who are eager to leave, the Journal reported.
Additionally, the US has not yet approved the flight departures, further obstructing the group’s efforts. Task Force Argo leaders told the Journal that they have three flights ready to leave but have not been cleared by the US to land. Several countries, like Albania, Rwanda, and Uganda, have agreed to receive the passengers but only with approval from the US government, the Journal reported.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August following President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops from the region. In its takeover, the Taliban renamed the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reverting back to the same name used during the last time the regime held power, in 1996. The regime remained in power until 2001, after the US invaded Afghanistan.
After the US ousted the Taliban from power, Afghanistan made several developmental gains including the doubling of per capita income and an increase in the average number of years of education. Experts now predict that the country will enter a state of universal poverty within the next year because of the Taliban’s resurgence.
Such factors are pushing out Afghans, but escape routes are partly constricted by the lack of financial support at Task Force Argo.
The Afghans sent away by Task Force Argo are going to have to find and fund their own accommodations and hope for a chance at a flight out of the country, the Journal reported.
“We are just volunteers,” a spokesperson for Task Force Argo told the Journal. The State Department, which did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment, told the Journal that it doubts that the volunteer group is providing accurate info about the number of Afghans who need to flee. There is nobody on the ground to vet the passenger lists, the spokesperson said, so it’s hard to verify whether those fleeing are eligible for relocation.
“This puts the individual travelers at risk with no plan for relocation to the United States; damages the bilateral relationship of the United States with the destination countries; and makes it more difficult for the U.S. government to rely on those partner countries to assist in future relocations out of Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said, according to the Journal.