American personnel destroyed the passports of some Afghans when they were getting rid of all sensitive materials at the US Embassy in Kabul in preparation for a full evacuation, according an update that Rep. Andy Kim’s office is sharing with people who request assistance with evacuations from Afghanistan.
It is unclear why the passports were destroyed, but it is possible diplomats determined it would have been dangerous for the documents to fall into the hands of Taliban members, who could then target those Afghans.
Not having a passport creates major complications for Afghans who are desperately and urgently trying to get out of the country.
“Visa and passport appointments at the Embassy have been canceled, and passports that were in the Embassy’s possession have been destroyed. Currently, it is not possible to provide any further visa services in Afghanistan,” the message from Kim's office says. “The Department of State advises all people waiting for processing to find shelter and wait for further instructions. They should not go to the airport until they are called to do so and should follow the instructions carefully.”
Rep. Tom Malinowski said that the US will have to come up with ways to verify the identity of Afghans whose passports were burned.
“We are going to have to take people without passports and vet them in other ways, like with their phone numbers for example. In many cases we know their contact information and their phone numbers and that is how we will have to identify them. Any Afghans braving the trip to the airport will not have wanted to go there with identifying documents, anyway,” Malinowski told CNN.
The US is not protecting the fully evacuated US Embassy in Kabul, but the compound is in a heavily fortified area, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment about the destruction of the passports.