A coalition of veterans, Afghan diplomats, wealthy donors, defense contractors, nonprofit workers and US officials on leave – in an effort “on the fly” from a room. conference at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC – helped evacuate approximately 5,000 refugees from Afghanistan over the past two weeks, The Wall Street Journal reports. The self-named “Commercial Task Force” is now “one of the most successful known private efforts” to rescue those on the ground seeking to escape.
“This is not who we are as a people,” said Jim Linder, a retired general and task force member, referring to the evacuation effort in general. As chairman of Tenax Aerospace, Linder’s connections “helped the group charter planes for rescue flights,” the Newspaper writing.
At the helm of the task force is Zach Van Meter, a private equity investor “made to act” at the behest of his associate, a former US Army commando, according to the report. Newspaper. Eager to help, Van Meter rented the hotel’s Peacock Lounge and settled in. His group has now negotiated places for refugees with the United Arab Emirates and is speaking with officials from Albania, Ukraine and other countries.
With the closure of evacuation routes, the “volunteers are examining possible land routes and airlifts from small towns, as well as countries ready to welcome Afghans who have already escaped,” writes the Newspaper. Sunday at 3 am, the last of them left the show “for good and moved their work elsewhere”.
“We’re not giving up,” said Emily King, a former Pentagon adviser. “We will continue to pivot to find a way.” Read more on The Wall Street Journal.