United States Forces Korea said Sunday it has not been asked to house evacuees fleeing Afghanistan, where the Taliban swiftly took over the government after the US began withdrawing troops.
The Wall Street Journal reported the previous day that the US was looking at American bases in Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Bahrain and Italy as the US expands efforts to fly thousands of Afghan evacuees, who feel threatened by the Taliban insurgents because of their association with US forces.
“To date, USFK has not been tasked to provide temporary housing or other support for anyone departing Afghanistan,” USFK spokesperson Col. Lee Peters said in a press release, adding that the US military will consult the matter with the Departments of Defense and State and the Korean government.
South Korea’s presidential office has yet to offer an official response on the matter, with a petition asking Cheong Wa Dae not to accept the evacuees posted on its website.
Meanwhile, Song Young-gil, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, called housing evacuees at American bases here unrealistic, saying that Washington has not reached out to Seoul to discuss the issue.
“Would that be really a proper way to go? I don’t know. Given the logistics of it, I think evacuees would have to settle in countries nearby,” Song said, referring to countries neighboring Kabul.
But Song noted that South Korea could bring over those Afghans -- about 400 -- who had helped the South Korean government with its reconstruction projects involving building Afghanistan’s key infrastructure.
“This is an advanced country we live in so our responsibility extends to them,” Song said.
The minor Justice Party called for quick government intervention not only to bring those refugees, but also to support undocumented Afghan immigrants living in South Korea. But the public is seen as wary of bringing in the evacuees on the belief that they could get more help from nearby nations.
By Choi Si-young (email@example.com