US Customs and Border Protection officials are looking into reports of alleged forced marriages between much older men and young girls whose families were desperate to have them escape the Taliban, according to a new report revealed Thursday.
Those young girls told officials at a transit site in Abu Dhabi that they ‘have been raped by older men they were forced to marry in order to escape Afghanistan,’ the damning report obtained by Yahoo News and dated September 5 states.
‘US officials are looking into reports that in the frantic evacuation of desperate Afghans from Kabul, older men were admitted together with young girls they claimed as “brides” or otherwise sexually abused,’ the leaked paper states.
It also notes reports of ‘purported child brides’ being brought to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, where Afghan refugees are meant to end up after a thorough vetting process overseas.
‘The reality is, overseas the vetting process sucks,’ an official familiar with the troubling reports told Yahoo News. ‘There’s minimal vetting.’
‘So now we have a 60-year-old guy with a 12-year-old girl saying, “That’s my wife.”‘
Three Afghan evacuees look thorough women’s pants at a donation facility run by US soldiers and civilians at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Fort McCoy was one of the places were child brides in coerced marriages were reported
Families evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, walk through the terminal before boarding a bus after they arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on September 3. All refugees enter the country through Dulles before heading to military bases across the US
Evacuees from Afghanistan arrive at Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on August 28. The memo from September 5 states Afghan girls told US officials there they had been raped by older men they were forced to marry to escape the Taliban
The US military wrapped its withdrawal from Afghanistan by President Biden’s deadline with 124,000 rescued, mostly vulnerable Afghans.
But the government is on to the next challenge of processing and vetting those people for entry into the US. Reports of inhumane condition and overcrowding surfaced in some areas.
Federal officials blamed those on bottlenecks, partially because of delays in making sure everybody was thoroughly checked.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at her daily White House briefing on September 1, ‘I can absolutely assure you that no one is coming into the United States of America who has not been through a thorough screening and background check process.’
But the scathing report surfaced today casts doubt on the process.
The official familiar with the report admitted it was ‘not a small number’ nor are they regarded as ‘legitimate marriages’ in the eyes of the United States.
‘Is there nefarious intent? Are these girls being rescued, or are they brought here for more nefarious purposes? We are just not sure,’ the official said.
The legal age to marry was 16 under Afghanistan’s previous government, but as the report notes, ‘child marriage is not uncommon’ in the country.
These marriages are indicative of the sheer level of desperation these families are willing to consider ‘helping loved ones escape the Taliban,’ the report states.
CBP looking into reports of child brides in Abu Dhabi and Wisconsin is just the latest blow to Biden’s handling of the crisis.
It was revealed Wednesday that the administration is allowing Afghan children to stay with the adult they arrived with in the United States – to avoid unaccompanied minors going into custody.
CNN reported Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services put out guidance over the weekend that laid out ways to avoid Afghan children being separated from caregivers.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with an Afghan refugee family at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Wednesday. The Biden administration will let evacuated children stay with the adults they arrived in the US with
The report comes after the Associated Press reported last week that a number of Afghan men entered the U.S. with child ‘brides,’ with officials seeking guidance on how to handle this dynamic.
‘Intake staff at Fort McCoy reported multiple cases of minor females who presented as “married” to adult Afghan men, as well as polygamous families,’ a document obtained by the AP warned. ‘Department of State has requested urgent guidance.’
The AP reported that there was no immediate indication from the military, the Department of Homeland Security or HHS that such guidance was received.
Typically, minors who don’t arrive with their parents – even if they come to the U.S. with an aunt, uncle or sibling – are put into HHS custody until a ‘sponsor’ is deemed worthy.
In the case of Afghan refugees, the Office of Refugee Resettlement – which is part of HHS – is allowing the children to stay with the adults they arrived with, even if they’re not the kids’ parents, CNN said.
Afghan refugees sit on the floor and stand around as they wait for processing inside Hangar 5 at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Wednesday
HHS did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiry on how they’re handling the issue of the child ‘brides.’
Last week, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said ‘very few Afghan children’ are arriving with adults who they don’t know.
More than 100 have arrived in the U.S. unaccompanied, an administration official told CNN, though a majority have been quickly reunited with family members.
‘Unaccompanied minors represent only one quarter of one per cent of the share of Afghan arrivals,’ an HHS spokesperson told CNN. ‘We will continue to work with our government partners to provide care for all the children referred to us.’
Antony Blinken met with Afghan refugees at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Wednesday as the administration continues to deal with the bungled troop withdrawal that is now leading to the displacement of thousands of Afghans.
The Secretary of State showed a picture of his children to a young Afghan refugee outside Hangar 5 for evacuation operations at Ramstein Air Base.
The State Department is facing criticism after it was revealed in an email link that the agency prevented several private flights from leaving Afghanistan with U.S. citizens and Afghan allies on board.
The trip to Germany came after Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with leaders in Doha, Qatar, which is acting as another third-party country for Afghan refugee processing before they are resettled in the U.S.
Blinken was also pictured there touring a base in Doha being used as a processing center with hundreds of cots lining the floor of a building.
Also on Wednesday, Blinken met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as the two counterparts discussed cooperation in efforts to process and resettle Afghan refugees. The two will hold a virtual 20-nation meeting on the crisis from the southwestern German U.S. Air Base.
The images out of Ramstein on Wednesday show a number of refugees sitting on the floor as they wait to be processed. Many are unaware of their final resettlement destinations, but are expected to come through the Philadelphia and Washington Dulles airports.
Blinken said on Tuesday that Afghan refugees will be vetted on the ‘back end,’ as he claims the withdrawal was too swift and chaotic to vet all Afghan refugees before they were airlifted out.
The administration still insists there are around 100 Americans left to be evacuated, while volunteer groups leading private evacuation efforts and Republicans claim there are more like 500 U.S. citizens still trying to get out.
Six planes chartered to evacuate Americans and allies from Afghanistan were blocked from leaving by the Taliban, it emerged over the weekend.
Afghan refugees are captured arriving at Washington Dulls International Airport last week. New Health and Human Services guidance is instructing officials to keep Afghan children with the adults they entered the U.S. with
The State Department also refused to green light privately chartered flights out of Afghanistan that could have evacuated US citizens and Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, leaked emails reportedly show.
Military lawyer and retired Marine Eric Montalvo shared the communications with Fox after he organized some of the flights and now claims the federal government thwarted his rescue effort.
The leaked emails show State officials refusing to allow Montalvo’s privately paid for flights to use US property either inside the country or at one of its many overseas bases, after the Biden administration pledged to do whatever it can to rescue all Americans and as many Afghan allies as possible.
‘No independent charters are allowed’ at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar,’ an email from September 1 says.
‘In fact, no charters are allowed to land at an [sic] DoD base and most if not all countries in the Middle Eastern region, with the exception of perhaps Saudi Arabia will allow charters to land.’
Blinken tours the refugee processing center at Al Udeid Air Base on Tuesday where thousands of evacuees are vetted before their flights to the United States
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group