Facebook Says It Assisted in Evacuating 175 Afghans, Including Employees and Their Families, to Mexico

The Mexican government confirmed the group's arrival, noting that it is the fourth to enter the country "for humanitarian reasons" since the Taliban takeover earlier this month

Afghan evacuees

Facebook says it has assisted in an effort to evacuate 175 Afghan citizens from Afghanistan to Mexico this week.

On Wednesday, the company confirmed its involvement in a statement to PEOPLE, writing that some of its own employees were among those who fled the country.

"In the process of assisting Facebook employees and close partners leave Afghanistan, we joined an effort to help a group of journalists and their families who were in grave danger," a spokesperson for Facebook said. "Thanks to the leadership of the Mexican government, and the support of the UAE in providing the initial landing, the journalists have been welcomed in Mexico."

In a news release, the Mexican government confirmed the arrival of the group, noting that it is the fourth to enter the country "for humanitarian reasons" since the fall of Afghanistan's government and the Taliban takeover earlier this month.

The government did not mention Facebook's involvement in the evacuation effort but did say that the group was comprised of "social media workers, activists and independent journalists and their families, including 75 children."

Afghanistan evacuations
People wait to board a plane at Kabul International Airport in August, 2021. MSgt Donald R Allen/AP/Shutterstock

Their travel and living expenses will be paid for by "private sponsors and civil society organizations," according to the news release.

"In keeping with Mexico's principles of solidarity with asylum seekers, refugees and those seeking humanitarian protection in our country, additional groups of Afghan citizens are expected to arrive in the coming days," the news release states.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in communication with the representatives of these groups that are requesting protection for humanitarian reasons, in addition to the governments of other countries and other areas of the federal government in order to make their arrival possible."

In April, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that all U.S. military troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 — 20 years after the 2001 terror attacks that led to the country's longest war.

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Since then the U.S. undertook a final, full-scale withdrawal from Afghanistan. But officials were caught off guard by a climactic takeover of the capital last weekend by the Taliban insurgency, who met with little resistance from the Afghan army. The Taliban's takeover led to scenes of chaos and panic at the Kabul airport as the U.S. evacuated personnel along with international allies like the U.K.

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Afghan refugees had begun arriving at Wisconsin's Fort McCoy. According to a press release, the new arrivals in Wisconsin are special immigrant visa applicants along with their families and other individuals at risk.

ahmadi family
The Ahmadi family. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES/Instagram

Vulnerable Afghans are being temporarily housed at three military installations in the United States, according to the release: Fort McCoy; Fort Lee, Virginia; and Fort Bliss, Texas.

"We expect these arrivals to continue throughout the day and the coming days," Task Force McCoy Commander Brig. Gen. Chris Norrie said in the release. "U.S. Northern Command is working to build additional capacity here, at Fort Lee, Fort Bliss, Texas, and potentially other military locations as required."

On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimated there were around 100 Americans, less than 200, who were still in Afghanistan after the weeks-long evacuation "and want to leave." But the administration didn't know the exact number.

In remarks from the White House on Tuesday, President Biden said that most of the estimated 100 to 200 Americans who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave are dual citizens — "longtime residents that earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan," he said.

"Bottom line: Ninety percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline," he said. "We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out."

If you would like to support those in need during the upheaval in Afghanistan, consider:

* Donating to UNICEF to aid Afghans in the country or

* Donating to the International Refugee Assistance Project to help those fleeing.

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