Americas

3 ex-US presidents unite to help Afghan refugees

New group formed to help settle thousands of Afghans in America

Barry Ellsworth   | 15.09.2021
3 ex-US presidents unite to help Afghan refugees

TRENTON, Canada 

Three former US presidents joined with businesses and other groups Tuesday to back the formation of Welcome.US, an organization to support Afghan refugees coming to America. 

George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and their wives along with a collection of advocacy groups are members of the organization that will aid thousands of Afghans who fled their country, fearing retribution from the Taliban after helping US and allied forces during their occupation.

US President Joe Biden evacuated American troops as of Aug. 30, ending their nearly 20-year deployment in the beleaguered country.

“Thousands of Afghans stood with us on the front lines to push for a safer world, and now they need our help. We are proud to support Welcome.US and the work to help Afghan families get settled and build new lives,” George W. Bush and his wife Laura said in a statement from the organization.

“We stand ready to show our new Afghan neighbors and the rest of the world how a welcoming and generous spirit forms the backbone of what makes our country so great.”

It was Bush who as president launched the US invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The war continued through Obama's presidency and that of Donald Trump, culminating in Biden's decision to withdraw American forces at the end of last month. That effectively meant that all allied forces had to leave.

Welcome.US is also backed by US businesses, including coffee giant Starbucks and Microsoft, as well as veterans' and non-profit associations. A number of US state leaders said they would be happy to accept the Afghan refugees into their communities.

About 73,500 "third country nationals and Afghan civilians" have been airlifted out of Afghanistan, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said at an Aug. 30 press briefing.

The announcement of Welcome.US comes as Congressional members look into the withdrawal and Republicans are grilling US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about security screening of the refugees.

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