The announcement that Colombia will receive 4,000 Afghan refugees as they await processing of U.S Special Immigrant Visas, has been well received by Colombians. According to a September survey by Mobimetrics, 80% of Colombians understand the reason why their national government is offering temporary asylum to persons who worked as interpreters, guides and contractors for the U.S military during two decades of Allied presence in the foreign country. The study also reveals that 52% of those polled believe the Afghans are fleeing repression and retaliation by the Taliban.
The region that is most empathetic to the entry of refugees is the Coast with 65% in agreement that Colombia must provide safe haven “as a means to help those in need.” The inhabitants of Antioquia and departments of the Coffee region are also empathetic (62%), with only 8% opposed to the humanitarian offer.
Sixty percent of Colombians believe that the Afghan presence in the country poses no security risk, while 8% of the population is indifferent. The issue that divides Colombians are what rights Afghan refugees are entitled to during their stay in the country, with 51% stating that they should not have the same rights as citizens, while 49% believe they should. The U.S government announced during the evacuation of Kabul that it will cover all costs of the Colombian government while the Afghan refugees are given food and accommodation.
The United States will resettle an estimated 65,000 Afghans by the end of September. More than 100 nations have offered to provide safe haven for the refugees. Colombia’s immigration entity Migración Colombia noted that there are no restrictions for Afghans to move around the country. The arrival process will entail strict biosecurity protocols and regular health screenings. Youngsters will have access to the social services of the Colombian Institute of Child Welfare (ICBF). The majority of visa applicants will be housed in hotels, including Bogotá’s iconic Tequendama.