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Afghan refugees and migrants protest in UAE over their uncertain future

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Afghan refugees and migrants who have been in limbo at a United Arab Emirates (UAE) facility for almost...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Afghan refugees and migrants who have been in limbo at a United Arab Emirates (UAE) facility for almost a year after being evacuated from Afghanistan held new protests this week over what they say is a slow and unclear resettlement process.

Two Afghans in the facility told Reuters that hundreds of Afghans carried banners and yelled for freedom on Monday and Tuesday. They said that thousands of Afghans were still waiting to be resettled in the United States or other countries.

Images and videos sent to Reuters showed children, women, and men protesting inside the Abu Dhabi facility, which is called Emirates Humanitarian City. The Gulf Arab state was 38 degrees Celsius at the time (100 degrees Fahrenheit).

One boy was carrying a small sign that said, "One year is enough!"

In a written statement to Reuters, an Emirati official said that there were frustrations and that the resettlement process was taking longer than the UAE had hoped.

The official said that the UAE was still working with the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the capital, to process the Afghans staying in the facility so that they could be resettled "in a timely manner."

The official said, "The UAE is still committed to working with the U.S. and other international partners to help Afghan refugees live in safety, security, and dignity."

A spokesperson for the State Department said that the U.S. is trying to find Afghans who might be able to move to the U.S. and that it "will be relentless in this effort" while making sure that "standard screening and vetting measures" are taken.

It is also working with the UAE and other countries to find "resettlement options" for people who can't move to the US, according to a spokesperson.

One of the Afghans, who asked not to be named, said, "We've been in detention here for almost a year, and the camp is like a modern prison." No one is allowed to leave, and they don't know when we'll be permanently moved to another country.

First, there were protests at the facility in February, when the resettlement process seemed to have stopped. This led to a visit by a senior official from the U.S. State Department, who said that all of the Afghans there would be moved by August.

The process started back up again soon after the visit. At the time, there were about 12,000 Afghans living at the Abu Dhabi facility and another nearby site. Since August of last year, the United States has taken in more than 85,000 Afghans. Many of them were processed in the Middle East and Europe.

Two Afghans who talked to Reuters said that people's mental health was getting worse because they didn't know what would happen to them in the future. Both of them said that they didn't know when they'd be moved.

The UAE official said that those who lived in the facility got "high-quality housing, sanitation, health, clinical, counseling, education, and food services to make sure their welfare."

#AfghanEvac is a coalition of volunteer groups that work with the U.S. government to help Afghans. When protests started, they wrote on Twitter that the process had not stopped and that the people in the UAE facility would be moved to the U.S. or somewhere else.

UAE officials have said that the country has offered to temporarily house thousands of Afghans who were evacuated by the US and other Western countries after the government in Afghanistan that was backed by the West fell and the Taliban took over.

Others came later on flights that they had to pay for. Most of the time, the UAE and other Gulf states don't let refugees in.

U.S. officials have said that everyone who meets the requirements will be resettled in the U.S., while others will be resettled in other countries. U.S. officials said that no one would be forced to go back to Afghanistan, but after months of waiting, some people in the UAE did go back on their own.

Advocates say that some of the Afghans who are being held in the UAE worked with the U.S. government, military, other coalition partners, and foreign charities during the war.

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