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What's next for those left in Afghanistan?

Fewer than 200 Americans are still in Afghanistan. A couple is already settled in Central Ohio, three more families on the way.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — President Biden addressed the nation Tuesday afternoon following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The U.S. was able to get more than 120,000 people out of the country.

Fewer than 200 Americans are still there. But with the last U.S. troops out of the country, what does that mean for the people left behind?

Nukhet Sandal is chair of the political science department for Ohio University. She says they are there for a variety of reasons. 

But, according to Sandal, the Taliban says they are committed to allowing foreign nationals and Afghan nationals with certain travel authorizations to leave the country.

“It will be difficult to leave Afghanistan at this point because of the situation with the airport and the fact that it has incurred some damage with the attacks,” said Sandal.

Sandal said the future for the average Afghan citizen is up in the air. In large part because of foreign aid. She said about half of Afghanistan’s economy comes from foreign aid.

A big question: will the same money be given with the Taliban in charge?

Then there's the uncertainty for Afghan women.

“Women arguably have more to lose in this situation because of women's rights and how the past 20 years have meant some level of progress,” said Sandal.

But what about those seeking refuge in Columbus?

Many leaving Afghanistan will be refugees across the world. Some, coming to Central Ohio. Community Refugee & Immigration Services or CRIS says there is already a couple living here with three other families on their way.

CRIS says many decide where to go based on family already living in the country. But because of the emergency, those fleeing the country were facing, the process was rushed for many coming to the US.

So there are actually two immigration statuses for those coming: refugee status and humanitarian parole. The big difference is humanitarian parole status is temporary and must be renewed every two years.

“There’s some gap in the way is refugees are treated versus what how this group may be treated and we're hopeful that they will be a legislative fix to make sure that we can provide them services to find employment make sure they have healthcare coverage and they're going to need a lot of legal assistance,” said Angie Plummer, Executive Director, CRIS.

The families here and on their way all have refugee status.

CRIS says parolees really haven't made their way into the country, so Central Ohio could receive more of both parolees and refugees.

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