Wheels Down in Qatar: Congressman Don Young and Staff Help Successfully Evacuate Alaska Native Corporation Employees from Afghanistan
Washington, October 8, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Office of Alaska Congressman Don Young can announce that following efforts by Congressman Young and his staff, employees of Goldbelt, Inc, an Alaska Native Corporation (ANC), along with other Americans, and Afghan allies, were successfully evacuated from Afghanistan and touched down in Qatar. Amid deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan, Congressman Young worked with officials at the State Department, the White House, the Department of Defense, and with private organizations to secure their safe passage.
“It was difficult to watch what happened in Afghanistan last month, particularly when our brave U.S. servicemembers were killed in the line of duty. As I have previously said, what happened in Kabul reminded me of what we saw in Saigon as the Vietnam War ended. The botched withdrawal created conditions that endangered lives, and resulted in the deaths of American soldiers and countless innocent civilians,” said Congressman Don Young. “Perhaps most egregious was the fact that so many were left behind; this was unacceptable. Among those left behind were employees of Alaska's Goldbelt, Inc, making the situation even more perilous. As conditions deteriorated, my staff and I worked around the clock to secure these employees’ safe passage. I am both pleased and relieved that Goldbelt’s employees successfully escaped Afghanistan and safely landed in Qatar. This was a herculean effort, and I want to thank the Goldbelt team, in addition to Air Force veteran Michael Songer, my Senior Legislative Assistant and Defense Policy Advisor, for his unyielding commitment to getting them out of harm's way. The sad fact is that this is not over, and there are still Americans and Afghan allies facing the Taliban's brutality. I will continue pushing the Administration to do the right thing and get them to safety.”
“Goldbelt, Inc. was working in Afghanistan supporting the State Department for more than three years. The company had U.S. nationals working in country and hired Afghan nationals to support those in-country operations. When the transition of power began to occur, Goldbelt moved its U.S. national employees to safety by flying them home. Goldbelt immediately reached out to the State Department to raise awareness of the potential vulnerability of the former employees who are Afghan nationals and begin the coordination effort to move them, and their families, to safety. Goldbelt took the lead by coordinating with the team because of an existing relationship with the State Department. We had one plane chartered and those people are now moved to safety. Goldbelt is now finished with this effort, and thanks everyone involved in making it possible. I especially want to thank Congressman Don Young and his staff for leveraging their extensive experience with both the State Department and the White House, which aided Goldbelt in the safe evacuation of its former Afghan national employees,” added McHugh Pierre, President and CEO of Goldbelt, Inc.