World

Blinken announces expansion of Afghan refugee program

August 03, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the State Department is announcing
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the State Department is announcing "a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the US but who do not qualify for Special Immigrant Visas."

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the State Department is announcing "a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the US but who do not qualify for Special Immigrant Visas."

In remarks to reporters, Blinken said that the Department of State created a Priority-2 (P-2) designation, "granting access to the US Refugee Admissions Program for many of these Afghans and their family members."

Thousands more Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence due to their US affiliations will have the opportunity to resettle as refugees in the United States under this program. The refugee program will cover Afghans who worked for US-funded projects and for US-based non-government bodies and media outlets.

The program, which the State Department said could help "many thousands" of Afghans, comes as fighting surges in Afghanistan ahead of the formal completion of the US troop withdrawal at the end of this month, with the Taliban pushing to capture key provincial capitals.

President Joe Biden has faced pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups to help Afghans at risk of Taliban retaliation because of their association with the United States during the 20-year war.

The program applies to Afghans who do not qualify for the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program that covers interpreters and others who worked for the US government, and their families.

"There is a significant diplomatic, logistical, and bureaucratic challenge," Blinken stressed. "We take our responsibility to our Afghan partners deeply seriously, and we know the American people do as well."

He emphasized, "Although US troops are leaving, the United States remains deeply engaged. We will continue to support Afghanistan through security assistance, humanitarian development aid, and diplomatic support for the peace process."

"The Afghan people deserve a just and lasting peace, and the security and opportunity that peace makes possible. We will do all that we can to advance that goal," he noted.

He continued "We'll continue to welcome Afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbors, in gratitude for helping us despite the danger."

Meanwhile, Blinken announced that second flight of Operation Allies Refuge arrived in the US early this morning, saying "those flights will continue."

Furthermore, he said, "We've seen the reports of atrocities being committed by the Taliban in various places where they are on the offensive, and these reports are deeply disturbing and totally unacceptable."

"We will keep engaging intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace," he remarked.

The Department of State affirmed in a statement that the "US objective remains a peaceful, secure Afghanistan."

"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 statement added.

It indicated that 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 due to their US affiliation but who are not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) because they did not have qualifying employment, or because they have not met the time-in-service requirement to become eligible."

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters during a briefing "the reason we're talking about this program today and the reason we've spoken to the SIV program and launched the very ambitious Operation Allies Refuge is because there is a subset of Afghans who, over the course of the years, owing their extraordinary service to the United States, be it to our military, to the State Department, or in the case of the P2 program to NGOs, to media organizations, these individuals face an especially acute threat." — Agencies


August 03, 2021
140 views
HIGHLIGHTS
World
15 minutes ago

China headed towards carbon neutrality by 2060; President Xi Jinping vows to halt new coal plants abroad

World
17 minutes ago

DR Congo President asks for materialization of ‘all the promises made to Africa’

World
20 minutes ago

Brazilian president commits country to climate neutrality by 2050

X