U.S. officials have found that Afghan girls have been presented to authorities as the “wives” of much older men and some girls said they were forced to marry older men who raped them, according to a report.
The State Department has sought “urgent guidance” from other agencies after child brides were brought to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Afghan girls at a transit site in Abu Dhabi said they had been raped by older men they were forced to marry, The Associated Press reported, citing officials and an internal document.
The document, which is a situation report sent last Friday to all U.S. embassies and consulates and to military command centers in Florida, says some older Afghan men who were transported to Fort McCoy also claimed to have more than one wife.
Titled “Afghanistan Task Force SitRep No. 63,” the document states: “Intake staff at Fort McCoy reported multiple cases of minor females who presented as ‘married’ to adult Afghan men, as well as polygamous families. Department of State has requested urgent guidance.”
According to a diplomatic cable sent by U.S. officials in the U.A.E to Washington, many girls at the Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi claimed they had been sexually assaulted by their “husbands.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the U.S. expects to admit at least 50,000 Afghans, and likely thousands more.
When Afghans arrive at Dulles International Airport in Virginia or Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania, they are then transported to one of eight military bases across the country, including Fort McCoy, Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort Lee in Virginia, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that as many as 25,600 Afghans were being housed on U.S. military bases as of Friday. According to U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, about 1,000 Afghans have been resettled or relocated off military bases.
Among the thousands who've arrived in the U.S., some 10,000 were flagged for additional security screening, and of those 100 were flagged for "possible ties to the Taliban or terror groups," sources with knowledge of the evacuation process told NBC News.
Two of those 100 were sent out of the country to Kosovo for an additional security review.
“Our commitment is an enduring one,” Mayorkas told reporters, suggesting that there was no set limit or a specific time frame for further evacuations out of Afghanistan.
“This is not just a matter of the next several weeks. We will not rest until we have accomplished the ultimate goal,” Mayorkas said.
“Our mission is not accomplished until we have safely evacuated all U.S. citizens who wish to leave Afghanistan or lawful permanent residents, all individuals who have assisted the United States in Afghanistan,” he added. “This effort will not end until we achieve that goal.”
An estimated 13% of all evacuees were U.S. citizens, according to Mayorkas. Another 8% were lawful permanent residents. The remainder were Special Immigrant Visa holders, SIV applicants or other Afghan nationals.
Mayorkas has been using his parole authority to allow Afghans who didn't obtain a visa to enter the U.S., a senior Biden administration official with the Department of Homeland Security told reporters on Aug. 24.
While the U.S. and its allies evacuated more than 123,000 people out of Afghanistan, it's believed that the majority of Afghan interpreters who are at risk of Taliban reprisal for helping the U.S. were left behind.
Among them is an Afghan interpreter who was part of a 2008 mission to rescue Joe Biden, who was a senator at the time, and two other senators, when their helicopter made an emergency landing in blinding snow in a valley 20 miles southeast of Bagram Air Field, The Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the man is now in hiding.
The State Department estimates that up to 200 Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan have also been left behind.
At least 24 Sacramento-area students are confirmed to be among those stranded, along with a pregnant American from California, whom Taliban militants kicked in the stomach as she tried to flee Kabul with her husband and father, Fox News reported.
Last Thursday, a suicide bombing outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul killed 10 U.S. Marines, two Army soldiers and one Navy Corpsman, along with as many as 170 civilians, most of whom were awaiting their evacuation.
The explosion came less than a week before the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country.
Human rights group ADF International has urged the international community to address the “dire plight” of religious minority communities in Afghanistan, including 10,000 Christians who are now “at extreme risk of being targeted with deadly violence.”
Following the drawing down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly seized control of much of the country, eventually taking the capital Kabul last month and forcing the government to flee. In response to the unexpected speed at which they retook the nation, tens of thousands of Americans, Afghan allies, and others desperately tried to leave the country.
The withdrawal marked the end of the war in Afghanistan, which spanned nearly two decades.