Photo: Afghan evacuee holds up his family's new South Korean passports. Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In its first-ever overseas rescue mission of foreign nationals, South Korea evacuated 391 Afghans who had assisted Korea’s involvement in Afghanistan.
In “Operation Miracle,” the South Korean military sent three warplanes to Islamabad, Pakistan, then sent two of the planes (which were capable of evading missile attacks) to Kabul. When the evacuees had difficulty entering the airport in Kabul, the Korean military had them meet outside of the airport, put them in six rented buses, which were then able to enter the airport thanks to US escort - just two days before the deadly suicide bombing attack that complicated the ongoing US rescue mission.
Nearly half of the evacuees are children under 10 years old, including three infants who are just days old. The evacuees arrived at the Incheon International Airport on August 26, then were housed at a government facility in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do Province 충청북도 진천.
The evacuees, who had worked with the Korean embassy, the Korea-run hospital at Bagram Air Base, etc., will not undergo the legal process for refugees; rather, they are considered “people of special merit” 특별공로자 and will receive long-term visas with a work permit.