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U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: Situation in Afghanistan still dire for women and girls

Today marks a somber day in global history. Since the Taliban’s takeover one year ago, we’ve seen rampant violence, a massive rollback of basic rights for women and girls and targeted persecution of vulnerable groups, like the Afghans who assisted the U.S. mission over the past two decades.

For years, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the need to safeguard the rights of Afghan women and girls to participate in society, receive equal access to education and determine their own futures.

Unfortunately, the progress made over decades to secure women’s basic freedoms is now being systematically erased by the Taliban’s violent rule. The global community must hold the Taliban accountable for its violence and galvanize coordinated international pressure to force the Taliban to change course.

In addition, the U.S. and our allies cannot turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants who remain in Afghanistan, targeted by the Taliban for aiding the U.S. mission. These brave Afghans stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our soldiers on the battlefield, putting their lives on the line to fight for a better future for their country.

With each day that passes, they live under the threat of Taliban retribution while navigating a complex SIV application process. We cannot abandon them — although our military mission concluded, our humanitarian obligation continues.”

 I welcome the Biden administration’s recent actions that have streamlined the SIV program and reduced the administrative burden on applicants. It’s also important that Temporary Protected Status has now been extended to Afghans living in the U.S. so they are not deported back to unsafe and violent conditions. We must continue to review the political and strategic decisions that led us to the longest war in U.S. history to ensure we don’t repeat these mistakes.

The situation on the ground in Afghanistan is still dire, and I’ll continue to help vulnerable Afghans and ensure Afghanistan remains a top U.S. foreign policy priority.