A number of the navy pilots who fled Afghanistan the day the federal government collapsed at the moment are within the United Arab Emirates.
They’re a part of a gaggle of ex-Afghan air power members who have been held at camps in Uzbekistan, the place they landed on Aug. 15, the day the Taliban marched into Kabul.
The destiny of a separate group of navy fliers in Tajikistan — who appealed for asylum in Canada in an interview with CBC Information on the finish of August — stays unclear.
One of many pilots now in Tajikistan, who spoke CBC Information by way of WhatsApp right this moment, mentioned they haven’t heard about their destiny and renewed their enchantment for assist to the Canadian authorities.
“We’ll wait to see what occurs,” mentioned the pilot, who flew AC-208 Eliminators; CBC Information has chosen to guard his identification due to the specter of retaliation in opposition to his household nonetheless in Afghanistan. “My buddies and I nonetheless have curiosity in going to Canada.”
Former U.S. Air Pressure brigadier-general Dave Hicks mentioned he and different American veterans have banded collectively to foyer each Congress and the State Division to assist the Afghan navy pilots now in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan who have been educated as a part of the western navy advise-and-assist mission.
Hicks mentioned slightly below 500 former Afghan air power pilots, floor crew and different navy personnel have been evacuated from Uzbekistan yesterday and right this moment. Within the UAE, U.S. officers will full the vetting course of, which is predicted to take two weeks.
Hicks informed CBC Information in an interview that reaching all the fliers in Tajikistan has been harder and that about half of the greater than 100 former Afghan navy personnel there have undergone their preliminary biometric scans and fingerprinting in preparation for journey to Canada or the U.S.
He mentioned that course of may take a number of weeks.
“I am wanting ahead to seeing an image of them on the bottom in a 3rd nation the place they will do the correct paperworks and vetting and hopefully get them over right here safely,” mentioned Hicks, who commanded the navy air coaching mission in Kabul in 2017 and is a part of the non-profit group OpSacredPromise.org, which is trying to assist resettle former Afghan air power personnel.
‘There isn’t a assure that they won’t be killed’
Reuters was the primary to report late Sunday on the Uzbekistan evacuation.
The Canadian uncle of one of many Afghan pilots has written a private enchantment to Liberal Chief Justin Trudeau calling on Canada to help the boys. The Taliban have demanded that the air power personnel be returned to Afghanistan, together with their plane and tools.
“As a citizen of this nation, it’s my proper to know what they will do,” mentioned the pilot’s uncle, who immigrated to Canada practically 20 years in the past. He requested CBC Information for anonymity as a result of he nonetheless has family in Afghanistan and fears Taliban reprisals.
The hardline Islamist Taliban motion — which, previous to the tip of the warfare, had waged a marketing campaign of assassination in opposition to navy pilots — has promised amnesty for many who return. The pilot’s uncle mentioned the fliers do not belief the Taliban’s phrase.
“There isn’t a assure that they won’t be killed,” the uncle mentioned.
The Afghan pilots in Tajikistan have been warned just lately by a former navy colleague nonetheless in Afghanistan that the Taliban have been making use of “extreme stress” on neighbouring governments to expedite their return.
A duplicate of the previous navy colleague’s telephone message to the pilots was obtained by CBC Information and translated.
Hicks mentioned he believes Canada might be a very good house for a number of the pilots.
“I can see a task for Canada with the proper personnel to offer them a chance to mattress down and begin a brand new life,” mentioned Hicks, who flew A-10 floor assault planes in 2010 to assist Canadian troops in Kandahar.