Washington expands refugee program for Afghans who worked for US troops & agencies as Taliban offensives continue
“In light of increased levels of Taliban violence, the US government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the United States,” the State Department said in a statement on Monday.
Under the new scheme, the categories of Afghans eligible for refugee status in the US were expanded to include current and former employees of US-based news organizations and NGOs, US-based aid and development agencies and other humanitarian groups that receive US funding.
According to the State Department, the change is aimed at “many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members who may be at risk due to their US affiliation,” but were until now not eligible for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs).
SIVs are issued to Afghans who serve as translators and do other work for US forces or diplomats.
A group of 221 Afghans arrived in the US under the government-run Operation Allies Refuge on Friday, who were among the 2,500 people slated for evacuation from the war-torn country. US lawmakers have long been pushing the White House to rescue more locals who helped Americans during their nearly two-decade-long military mission in Afghanistan.Also on rt.com Afghan president blames ‘abrupt’ departure of US-led troops for failures in war with Taliban
The fate of Afghan translators and other helpers has become more pressing as the Taliban gain ground amid the withdrawal of US troops that is set to be completed by August 31. The militants have launched assaults on several major cities, including Kandahar. On Monday, President Ashraf Ghani blamed the deteriorating situation on the “abrupt” departure of US-led forces.
The Taliban offensives prompted around 1,500 Afghan soldiers to cross the border with Tajikistan last month and more refugees to flee to Turkey.
Overall, 270,000 people have been newly displaced inside Afghanistan due to insecurity and violence since January 2021, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
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