Merkley: Our Top Priority Must Remain Bringing Americans and High-Risk Afghans to Safety

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—released the following statement today after the end of the United States’ military evacuation process in Afghanistan:

“After twenty years of fighting that cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, President Biden has finally put a stop to the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan—a war that began with clear, attainable goals, but quickly spiraled in scope at the direction of the Bush administration into an impossible mission.   

“We owe an immense debt to our brave service members—some of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice—and their families, for all they’ve done to make it possible for the United States to evacuate over 116,000 Americans and Afghans from Kabul in the past 15 days. We must also remember the contributions of the service members that came before them, who worked tirelessly for years in an effort to create a more hopeful future for Afghanistan and the Afghan people.

“And to all of the Afghans who, at great personal risk, worked alongside us in pursuit of that goal, we owe our help and support. That’s why I’m continuing to urge the Biden administration to work with NGOs and our partners around the world to ensure that we use all available resources to support the evacuation of all Americans and vulnerable Afghans who remain in Afghanistan and are at acute risk. My team and I will also continue to do all that we can to help the refugees who made it out of Afghanistan find the safety and care that every human being deserves. And for those who remain in Afghanistan, we will work closely with the administration to ensure that non-governmental organizations can continue to deliver life-saving assistance to marginalized populations and that we use our diplomatic leverage to protect human rights, particularly those of women and girls.

“It’s clear that America cannot decide Afghanistan’s fate, and the outcome of this unsustainable conflict could not have been altered by any amount of American blood or treasure. But a military withdrawal does not mean disengaging altogether, and we have a moral responsibility to continue to help the people of Afghanistan, using all civilian tools at our disposal.” 

Merkley’s team worked alongside the U.S. State Department to evacuate U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and vulnerable Afghan allies, and will continue to communicate information regarding services for refugees as they become available.