Thousands of Afghan refugees demonstrated in a shelter camp in Abu Dhabi to protest against conditions they described as prison-like, as they have been waiting since their evacuation months before from Afghanistan to be resettled in America.

The American

Wall Street Journal

said in

a report

that these protests had been planned in the coming days, but they erupted late on Wednesday night after the refugees published news that the Emirati secret police had arrested an organizer named Abdul Jalal. kakar.

The newspaper considered that the protests of the Afghans to resettle in America will increase pressure on the already tense talks between Washington and Abu Dhabi over the future of the camp, which was established to house them for weeks, but has become a waiting station with an unknown fate.

While the UAE denied arresting anyone, the refugees said that it later emerged that Kakar had met US officials while he was away from the camp.

Reuters quoted one of the protesters as saying that the Emirati authorities detained some Afghans with the start of the demonstrations.

Men, women and children

Thousands of Afghans left the camp after dark and gathered outside the office of a US diplomat, shouting and holding placards reading "We want freedom."

A few women walked alongside the men, and children carried placards that read, "Six months of living in prison, I'm suffering psychologically."

After the collapse of the US-backed government, the administration of US President Joe Biden called on allies to temporarily host refugees after they were evacuated from Afghanistan, and has not yet set a course for the thousands who ended up in a third country and are still waiting to enter the United States.

Afghan children hold placards during a protest in Abu Dhabi against the long US transport operation (Reuters)

One of the protest organizers - who asked not to be named for security reasons - criticized the United States for leaving them stuck for months in difficult conditions without news of their immigration issues, adding, "We are locked up and imprisoned here, we are prisoners in our rooms, our future is unclear."

lack of transparency

One of the protest organizers told Reuters that they had repeatedly asked the US embassy to come and talk to them about the reason for the slow process and shed light on their future, adding that the embassy representative told them that processing their papers might take years, and that the rest of the ineligible people, the United States does not have any program for them.

Ahmed Mohebi, a former US adviser in combating "terrorism" in Afghanistan who helped flee from there, said that US flights transporting Afghans from the UAE stopped last November, and criticized the US resettlement process for Afghans in the UAE, saying: "No There is transparency.

About 10,000 Afghans are in the hermetically sealed compound, trapped in their homes by what officials describe as fears of the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and they have complained of limited access to US immigration officials, and a lack of employment and education opportunities for their children.

It may take years

Washington recognized about 75,000 Afghans who boarded US military flights to the United States last year under a temporary status known as "humanitarian parole," but officials say Afghans who remain in third countries must complete the regular immigration process before entering the states. United States, which could take years.

Part of the Afghan refugee protests in Abu Dhabi (Reuters)

Many refugees who served alongside American troops and diplomats complained that thousands of Afghans with little to no ties to the United States had been evacuated to America in the chaos that followed the withdrawal, while they remained trapped outside the country.

White House officials this week declined to provide an update on visa processing times, but said the number of people working on the program has quadrupled.

Before the fall of Kabul, officials had said, waiting times had been cut from several years to nearly nine months.

Shelter center in Qatar

The Biden administration has also recently announced plans to simplify immigration procedures in Qatar, but it only expects to use the Qatar Center for priority cases including immediate family members of Americans and permanent residents, former U.S. Embassy employees and unaccompanied children to be reunited with their parents.

The camp in the UAE is home to thousands of refugees who currently do not have a legal pathway to America, including members of the CIA-backed paramilitary units that helped secure Kabul airport but were not employed directly by American agencies or contractors.

Washington has said Afghans who do not meet certain criteria necessary for US entry will be transferred to third countries.

No country has volunteered to receive these Afghan refugees, but the United States hopes the European Union or Canada will help.

Outside the UAE, thousands of Afghans are stranded in southeastern European countries such as Albania and Greece, or in other parts of the world, including Uganda, Mexico and Chile.