US takes 34 unaccompanied Afghan youngsters into custody after airlift | US immigration

About three dozen unaccompanied Afghan children were taken into custody by the US government after being evacuated from Afghanistan during the hasty withdrawal in recent weeks, US officials told Reuters.

The children arrived at Kabul airport without a parent or guardian and were referred to the U.S. Department of Health (HHS) refugee office upon arrival in the United States, according to a U.S. official who requested anonymity to discuss internal government operations.

Of 34 Afghan children taken into US government care Thursday, 24 remain after some were quickly placed with close family members. The children in custody are housed in government accommodations that have experience caring for Afghan children, said the official, who refused to disclose their whereabouts for security reasons.

The unaccompanied children are part of a growing number of refugees flown from Afghanistan on one of the largest airlifts in history, says Joe Biden’s administration.

As of August 14, the United States has flown approximately 105,000 people out of the country, including U.S. citizens, Afghans, and foreigners.

The U.S. government hasn’t said how many Afghans have arrived in the United States, but proponents say thousands have already entered the country.

The unaccompanied children being placed in the care of the U.S. government have no parents in the United States and in some cases the parents have passed away, the official said.

“If their parents are not here now, but they are, we need a place to go in the meantime and then they will be united when their parents are here,” the officer said.

The children make up a fraction of the nearly 15,000 unaccompanied children in the care of the HHS Refugee Agency, most of whom come from Central America and arrive at the US-Mexico border.

A HHS spokesman said in a statement that work is being done to ensure that children are “brought to licensed carers who are able to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services.”

HHS is working to attract more Afghan foster families to its network in the event that some of the children cannot be placed with family members in the United States, the official said.

Most of the unaccompanied Afghan children are older teenagers, the official said.

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