Ross Wilson, Charge D’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, on Thursday to reporters said: "For months, we and our colleagues in Washington had worked to speed up everything we could in the SIV (special immigrant visa) process. Since the first of this year, our consular staff in Kabul has issued over 5,000 special immigrant visas and interviewed thousands more, some of whom departed yesterday."
The operation to evacuate U.S.-affiliated Afghans and family members comes as the U.S. troop pullout nears completion and government forces struggle to repulse Taliban advances.
The first planeload of 200 evacuees arrived at Fort Lee, a military base in Virginia, for final paperwork processing and medical examinations.
The Afghans are being granted Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) entitling them to bring their families. As many as 50,000 or more people ultimately could be evacuated in "Operation Allies Refuge."