Printed: January 22, 2022

Pittsburgh among 19 recommended cities for refugees

BY DANIEL MOORE POST-GAZETTE WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has recommended Pittsburgh, among 19 American cities, as a place for Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover of their country to be resettled.

The preferred cities were posted as part of online instructions for Afghans who have received Special Immigrant Visas on how to influence where they end up living in the United States.

The department allows those people — who were issued visas because they worked with U.S. forces during the 20-year war — to select a city from a list of placement options.

Pittsburgh was among the list of cities that were, the department stated, identified by resettlement agencies as “locations with reasonable cost of living, housing availability, supportive services, and welcoming communities with volunteers and resources.” The list includes Cleveland, Buffalo and Philadelphia, too.

Visa holders can indicate their preferred city on a visa form, the department stated.

The guidance comes as thousands of desperate Afghans have been cleared to leave the country by U.S. military forces currently occupying the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the country’s capital.

In many cases, Afghans are being flown to third countries for processing before being routed to the United States.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense authorized Fort Lee, Va.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; Fort Pickett, Va.; and Holloman AFB, N.M., to provide temporary housing and support for vulnerable Afghans in support of Operation Allies Refuge.

About 12,500 people were evacuated from Kabul in the 24-hour period ending 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the White House reported in an update Friday. Those people were transported by 35 U.S. military flights, which carried about 8,500 evacuees, and 54 flights operated by Western allies, which carried about 4,000 people.

Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 105,000 people, the White House said.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment Friday. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said the administration is keeping details private to ensure safety of the Afghans but will notify the public when decisions are made.

Daniel Moore: dmoore@post-gazette.com, Twitter @PGdanielmoore