Some Afghan who worked with the US during the war will be eligible for the refugee program (Picture: AP/Getty)
The US is set to take in as many as 20,000 Afghan refugees who are at-risk of being targeted by the Taliban for their involvement in the 20-year war.
The White House is expected to announce its plans to increase efforts to re-home the thousands of Afghan nationals later today (Monday) – as Taliban violence surges across the war-torn country ahead of the completion of America’s military withdrawal.
The State Department will roll out the so-called ‘Priority Two’ refugee program this week, which will mean more Afghanistan citizens will be eligible to claim refugee status in America than current rules allow.
Among those now eligible in the extended scheme will be current and former employees of US-based news organizations, US-based aid and development agencies and other relief groups that receive US funding.
Afghan migrants take a boat near Edirne, Turkey, as they attempt to enter Greece by crossing the Maritsa river, on March 1, 2020 (Picture: AFP/Getty)
Additionally, current and former employees of the US government and the NATO military operation who don’t meet the criteria for a dedicated program for such workers are also covered.
In a statement, the US State Department has said that ‘many thousands’ of Afghans and their immediate families will now have the opportunity to be permanently resettled in the US as refugees.
Officials have not yet said how many people might be eligible for the program but it’s thought that at least 20,000 how so far expressed an interest.
‘The US objective remains a peaceful, secure Afghanistan’, the State Department said in a statement.
US forces will be removed from Afghanistan by the end of August (Picture: AFP/Getty)
‘However, 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 creation of the Priority Two category for Afghans is intended for Afghans and their immediate families who ‘may be at risk due to their US affiliation’ and aren’t able to get a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) because they did not work directly for the US government or didn’t hold their government jobs long enough.
Around 2,500 Afghans who hold an SIV – most of whom served as translators or did other work for US troops or diplomats – will be brought to the US as refugees in the coming days. The first group of 221 evacuees will arrive in the US on Friday.
Another 4,000 SIV applicants, plus their families, who have not yet cleared the security screening are expected to be relocated to third countries ahead of the completion of the US withdrawal.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].