KABUL: Uzbekistan has apparently rejected a US request for it to grant temporary asylum for Afghans who worked with Americans and are awaiting special immigration visas.
The United States has recently asked Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to grant temporary asylum to 9,000 Afghans who have worked with Western troops in Afghanistan and are under threat from the Taliban.
Majority of Afghans who worked with the US military are fearing retribution as the Taliban are taking over major parts of Afghanistan and are scrambling to flee before the militants kill them.
“The temporary shelter for Afghans working with the US military was a very serious and sensitive issue that could not be decided immediately,” said Uzbek President’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Esmatullah Ergashev.
Ergashev added that Uzbekistan had not signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Asylum Seekers and that its domestic law on granting asylum to foreign nationals was not explicit.
“Therefore, there are no legal or practical grounds for sheltering Afghans who have cooperated with the United States in our territory, taking into account external and internal factors,” he added.
Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have not yet commented publicly on the US request.
The US military is preparing to move 35,000 Afghan interpreters and their families to two US military bases in Kuwait and Qatar.
According to the report, a program of temporary construction of living quarters and other facilities at Qatar’s As-Sailiya base and Kuwait’s Borang base has begun to house the Afghans.
The Afghans are expected to live in the two military bases for at least 18 months until they receive a special immigration visa to travel to the United States.