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Home » US expands Afghan refugee programme amid escalating violence

US expands Afghan refugee programme amid escalating violence

US expands Afghan refugee programme amid escalating violence

The State Department says it will expand eligibility of refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 applicants.

The Biden administration is expanding its efforts to take in more at-risk Afghan citizens who worked for nongovernment organisations as a Taliban offensive intensifies in advance of the United States military pullout from Afghanistan at the end of the month.

The State Department said on Monday it is widening the scope of Afghans eligible for refugee status in the United States to include current and former employees of US-based media organisations, aid and development agencies and other relief groups that receive US funding.

Current and former employees of the US government and the NATO military operation who do not meet the criteria for an existing dedicated programme for such workers are also covered.

“We take our responsibility to our Afghan partners deeply seriously,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at the State Department on Monday.

“A great deal of hard work has gone into this already, but even more lies ahead. There’s a significant diplomatic, logistical and bureaucratic challenge,” Blinken said.

Blinken added the US would be offering assistance to neighbouring countries facing a surge of refugees from Afghanistan as continuing Taliban attacks on Afghan government forces create a climate of fear and uncertainty as US troops depart.

“We are also dedicating very significant assistance – humanitarian assistance – not only in Afghanistan itself, but to neighbouring countries to enable them to support those who come to their countries seeking refugee status,” Blinken said.

Blinken said the move would mean that “tens of thousands” of Afghans and their immediate families would now have the opportunity to be permanently resettled in the US as refugees.

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