WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thousands more Afghans who could be targeted by Taliban violence because of their American affiliations will have the opportunity to resettle as refugees in the United States under a new program announced by the State Department on Monday.
Reuters reported exclusively on plans to establish the “Priority Two” refugee program, which covered Afghans working for US-funded projects and for US-based nongovernmental organizations and media, earlier on Monday. .
“In light of increasing levels of Taliban violence, the US government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity to resettle refugees in the United States,” the Department said. status in the ad.
“This designation expands the opportunity to permanently resettle in the United States to many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members who may be at risk.”
The show comes as fighting escalates in Afghanistan ahead of the formal end of the US troop withdrawal later this month, with the Taliban pushing to capture key provincial capitals.
US President Joe Biden has faced pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups to help Afghans at risk of retaliation from the Taliban because of their association with the United States during America’s 20-year war.
Those who worked as employees of contractors, locally employed staff, and interpreters and translators for the U.S. government or military are eligible for the new designation, as are Afghans employed by a media organization or non-governmental organization (NGO) based in the US, said the State Department.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will comment on the show at 2 pm, the department said.
The new program for Afghans requires applicants to be referred by a US agency or by the senior US citizen employee of a US-based NGO or media organization.
That requirement differs from an existing refugee program for Iraqis, which allows Iraqis to apply directly, but has been suspended indefinitely while US officials conduct a comprehensive fraud investigation.
The Priority Two program applies to Afghans who do not qualify for the Special Immigration Visa (NYSE 🙂 (SIV) program that covers interpreters and others who worked for the US government and their families.
Roughly 200 SIV applicants whose visas are in the final stages of processing and family members flew to the United States last week at the start of an evacuation effort dubbed “Operation Allied Shelter” that could include as many as 50,000 people or more.
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