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Citing Taliban violence, US expands Afghan refugee programme

By India TV News

The Biden administration on Monday expanded its efforts to evacuate at-risk Afghan citizens from Afghanistan as Taliban violence increases ahead there of the US military pullout at the end of the month.

The State Department said it is widening the scope of Afghans eligible for refugee status in United States to include current and former employees of US-based news organisations, US-based 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 don’t meet the criteria for a dedicated programme for such workers are also covered.

The State Department said the move will mean that “many thousands” of Afghans and their immediate families will now have the opportunity to be permanently resettled in the US as refugees. It did not offer a more specific number of those who might be eligible for the programme.

“The US objective remains a peaceful, secure Afghanistan,” it said in a statement. “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 a “Priority 2” category for Afghans within the US Refugee Admissions Program is intended for Afghans and their immediate families who “may be at risk due to their US affiliation” but aren’t able to get a Special Immigrant Visa because they did not work directly for the US government or didn’t hold their government jobs long enough.

To qualify for the Priority 2 category, Afghans must be nominated by a US government agency or by the most senior civilian US citizen employee of a US-based media outlet or non-governmental organisation.

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