At least 324 Afghan refugees to be resettled in Texas cities amid Taliban takeover


Passengers walk to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. As a Taliban offensive encircles the Afghan capital, there’s increasingly only one way out for those fleeing the war, and only one way in for U.S. troops sent to protect American diplomats still on the ground: the airport. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Taliban takes over in Afghanistan, thousands of residents are set to be resettled in the U.S. to escape the increasing danger and destruction.

Refugee Services of Texas said reports suggest 30,000 Afghans will be relocated to the U.S. soon. Many will be temporarily housed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, but at least 324 Afghans will be settled through the organization’s offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.

The Austin office of Refugee Services already resettled a family of seven this weekend and plans to welcome at least four more families this week, the organization shared Monday.

Chaos in Afghanistan came just two weeks before the U.S. was set to pull troops from the country after nearly 20 years. Over the course of several days, the militant Taliban toppled authorities in major cities.

It’s believed the Taliban started the takeover because the U.S. is withdrawing, Associated Press explains. One of the biggest concerns among fleeing Afghans is that Taliban members will exact revenge against those who helped the U.S.

Incoming Afghans will have applied for Special Immigrant Visas, or SIVs, in order to qualify for resettlement. RST says all applicants will undergo background checks and health screenings.

An RST representative explained on Monday, “We know that this is just the beginning of this wave, and RST stands ready to do our part in this crisis.”

A U.S. Department of Defense representative told KXAN that the Department will provide temporary housing and support in the U.S. for up to 22,000 applicants, families and other at-risk people. Eight thousand others will be transported to a third country for processing.

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