Rice, McMaster call for help removing orphans from Afghanistan: report
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster are calling on the Biden administration, congressional leaders and the United Nations to help remove orphans from Afghanistan.
Rice and McMaster in a letter on Tuesday called the evacuations “not just a humanitarian issue” but a “critical issue of national security,” according to Axios, which obtained the letter.
The letter was sent to first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, congressional leaders in both parties, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
“We are extremely concerned that a lack of action on this matter could result in a new generation of individuals committed to waging war against the United States,” Rice and McMaster wrote, according to Axios.
They detailed one orphanage holding 200 children in Afghanistan, who they said are especially vulnerable because they come from persecuted ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Axios did not name the orphanage at the request of their source, who was concerned about the orphans’ safety.
Rice and McMaster expressed concerns about the young boys being trained to join the Taliban and the young girls being forced into marrying soldiers.
“We know young boys are recruited, trained, and abused by the Taliban, and that young girls are forced to become wives to soldiers. Historically, the Taliban have used minors as suicide bombers who have inflicted violence against the Afghan people,” they wrote.
The two former officials contended that “many families” from the U.S, Canada and Western Europe are “eager to adopt these children and are currently being vetted by an expedited process.”
“Private citizens of the United States are willing to fund the flights. These children do not have to face their current fate. With your help, they can be removed and safely placed with loving families who will give them an opportunity to lead a full life, free of violence, abuse, and oppression,” they wrote.
The plea from Rice and McMaster came one day after the final U.S. military plane left Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war after 20 years of military involvement.
The U.S. evacuated 79,000 civilians from Kabul between Aug. 14 and Aug. 30, including 6,000 Americans and more than 7,300 Special Immigrant Visa holders, consular staff, at-risk Afghans and their families.
Axios noted that the orphans at the unidentified facility mentioned by Rice and McMaster only represent a small number of children who have lost both of their parents during the war, which spanned nearly two decades. It is not clear how many Afghan orphans were pulled from the country in the final evacuation effort, and how many remain.
In a statement to The Hill on Thursday, a State Department spokesperson said the department is continuing to look into “all available avenues” to give protection to individuals at-risk in Afghanistan.
“Our commitment to individuals at-risk in Afghanistan will not end. The United States will work vigorously with the international community to explore all options to support vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, including – but not limited to – women, children, journalists, persons with disabilities, and members of ethnic and religious minority groups and other extremely at-risk populations,” the spokesperson said.
“We are continuing to examine all available avenues to provide protection for these populations,” the spokesperson added.
The Hill reached out to the White House, first lady’s office, the Department of Defense, UNICEF and the U.N. for comment.
Updated: Sept. 2 at 5:33 p.m.
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