It was reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Saturday that the United States considers the idea of accepting Afghan refugees in U.S. military bases in South Korea. U.S. government officials were quoted as saying that Washington reviews a plan to house refugees from Afghanistan in U.S. military bases in South Korea, Japan, Germany, etc. The United States Forces Korea (USFK) said on Sunday that it will cooperate with the South Korean government once a mission is ordered.
According to the report by the WSJ, it seems like a plan for Washington to build temporary camps to accommodate Afghan war refugees in its overseas bases in Asian nations such as South Korea and European allies. It has been said that U.S. military bases in Middle East such as Qatar and Bahrain are already filled with refugees from Afghanistan. Washington intends to help evacuate a total of 50,000 to 65,000 cooperators and their families during the Afghan war by the end of this month.
If USFK bases seem required to accept refugees as per Washington's judgment, ample discussion with Seoul should happen beforehand. As Washington's agreement with host nations stipulates that overseas U.S. bases shall be subject to extraterritoriality, Washington has an authority to make a decision to house refugees. However, if the U.S. pushes forward with its plan with lack of communication, Seoul and Washington may face unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts. It is also considered necessary to seek understanding of South Korean citizens by transparently revealing the scale of refugees and how long they stay in USFK bases.
Added to this, Washington needs to take the initiative by opening its arms to refugees from Afghanistan in domestic military bases as it is not supposed to force its allies alone to bear the burden. The Afghan war started off with the invasion of U.S. forces into the region. Thus, it is required to show how it values human rights with a sense of responsibility for the refugee issue while refraining from any “America First” policy.
More than two million refugees have left Afghanistan, and number will only add up over time. Ranking among the world's top 20 economic leaders, South Korea is not supposed to sit on its hands while the refugee issue has a growing influence over the globe. If refugees are housed by U.S. military bases in South Korea, the nation should provide enough assistance to them to fulfill its responsibilities as part of the international community and help strengthen its alliance with the United States.