First Group of Afghan Evacuees Arrives in Albania

​A first group of 121 evacuees from Afghanistan arrived early Friday in Albania, after the country agreed to temporarily house at-risk Afghan nationals at the request of the United States.More are expected to go to the Western Balkan country, but the timing is uncertain because of the chaos and evolving situation at the Kabul airport, as the United States and other countries race to get Americans and others out of the country ahead of an Tuesday deadline for complete withdrawal, amid the threat of more terror attacks.Officials in Albania said the first group of 121 was made up of civil society activists and others, including children and 11 babies. The flight made one stop in Tbilisi, Georgia, then departed for Albania, arriving at the country’s main airport in Tirana at 3 a.m. local time.Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama offers a gift to a boy during his visit to a resort accommodating Afghan refugees in Golem, west of Tirana, Aug. 27, 2021.They were being sheltered temporarily in three hotels near the coastal town of Durrës, about 38 kilometers (23.5 miles) from Tirana.“We have prepared for everything, including processing documentation and registration, health checks, sanitary packages, food, transportation and of course safety,” said Foreign Minister Olta Xhaçka, who welcomed the group at the airport.U.S. Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim was also present, thanking Albania for the hospitality.FM An Afghan family gathers at a resort that is accommodating Afghan refugees in Golem, Albania, Aug. 27, 2021.While the length of the Afghan evacuees’ stay in these countries remains to be seen, Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a global affairs think tank, told VOA the priority is to move them out of Afghanistan.”Right now, I think the key is to get them to a place where they are safe to begin the paperwork, the background checks, other necessary steps to process to them for refugee status and for ultimate resettlement,” he said, adding that the Biden administration “is very appreciative for any country that is willing to help out.” Ilirian Agolli contributed to this report.

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