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BOGOTA, Colombia, Tues. Aug 24, 2021 (Reuters) – Colombia is temporarily hosting some 4,000 Afghans who have fled their country’s takeover by the Taliban while they await approval to enter the United States.

President Ivan Duque has not specified how many Afghans would temporarily stay in Colombia but some U.S. and Colombian media outlets have reported that the number will be about 4,000.

All will all be located in Bogotá.

“We are talking about something that, above all, has to be humanitarian. We need this vulnerable population that comes from Afghanistan to get to a place where they feel welcomed, “said the Vice President and Foreign Minister, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

He added that they will undergo PCR tests for coronavirus, but acknowledged that it is not yet known precisely how many citizens there will be.

U.S. President Joe Biden is facing criticism of his handling of the chaotic American pullout from Afghanistan. Critics accuse his administration of misjudging the speed with which the Taliban would take over and botching the planning of evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies after the 20-year U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

“Colombia is also joining the group of allied countries which will offer support to the United States so those citizens of Afghanistan who gave help to the United States for years and who are in the process of registering and making a migrant transfer to that country can be in Colombia temporarily,” Duque said in joint remarks with U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg.

The United States will pay the cost of the Afghans’ stay in the Andean country, Goldberg said, thanking Colombia for its help with the effort and also for its generosity in receiving some 2 million Venezuelan migrants.

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Will Dunham)

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