CASE STUDY: US Care Specialist Migration

The context

The US Government decided to fund the evacuation of translators and their families who had assisted the US army prior to the overthrow of Kabul, Afghanistan in 2021. There were approximately 300-350 thousand individuals in need of relocation, and they were given Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) under the US CARE programme. This included many people who had been identified as High Value Targets (HVTs) to the Taliban.

The issue

The US government needed specialist assistance with transportation and logistics to be able to move people by air and by land. Due to the security risk to individuals and their families, speed of movement was a critical factor as well as understanding the local sensitivities and cultural considerations of the region.

The solution

SEPAR International used trusted and influential contacts both inside and outside of Afghanistan to identify the best course of action and developed low risk options using on the ground information. Our combined international and local specialists formed a team that was able to implement a successful solution swiftly and safely.

SEPAR International was able to bring a unique capability to the US Care programme by:

  • Being able to move people with or without documentation.
  • Having the capability to move people overtly or covertly including high value targets.
  • Being a registered travel agent in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This meant that we could obtain passports, visas, medicals, tickets and manage any other travel requirements.
  • Having open dialogue and representation with the Taliban.
  • Being in possession of international business licenses in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Providing secure, controlled accommodation and safe houses in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The delivery

We delivered a holistic ‘end to end’ solution through a series of orchestrated steps.

  • Our outreach team initially contacted everyone with an SIV, to confirm their location and personal details, after which those residing in the provinces moved into accommodation in Kabul.
  • Their documents were collected, checked and any missing documents were applied for.
  • We arranged for each individual to take a PCR test (for COVID-19) and/or a full body medical.
  • We scheduled every appointment that people were required to attend as well as transporting them to the airport for their flights. We evacuated more difficult cases such as HVTs, single women, and pregnant women overland to Islamabad.
  • Once in Pakistan, we ensured everyone was placed into accommodation. We were their sponsor and registered them with the local police.
  • Everyone was given a SEPAR contact for support with any issues, and we ensured that they were safe and well looked after.
  • Interviews were essential to be issued with a US visa, and medicals were again required, for which we provided transport and translation services.
  • Our team on the ground made sure all visas were valid. Due to our good working relationship with the MOI in Pakistan, we were able to acquire exit permits without delay. Once exit permits were received, we transported people to the airport and ensured their safe passage through customs.

During this process we reported to the prime contractor, and the US government, on the progress of each movement and gave daily updates to ensure clear lines of communication.

The outcome

SEPAR International successfully moved over 32,000 individuals to safety with a zero-failure rate. This was achieved through detailed planning, working closely with the US and local administration, and using local resource and cultural understanding to minimise risk.
Within the total number evacuated, approximately 300 were classified as High Value Targets (HVTs). SEPAR International’s achievements were singled out and recognised by the Islamabad Afghanistan Task Force and the Afghans in Crisis Network (AiCN).