First group of 200 interpreters flown into US
The United States said Monday it was ready to take in thousands more Afghans whose US links put them at risk from the Taliban as Western troops leave, but the asylum-seekers will face an arduous journey to safety.
Less than a month before the United States is set to end its longest-ever war, the State Department expanded the eligibility of refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 Afghans who have applied under a programme for interpreters who assisted US forces and diplomats.
“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 State Department said in a statement.
“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,” it said.
The State Department said that the expanded eligibility will include Afghans who worked with US-based media organizations or non-governmental organizations or on projects backed by US funding.
The State Department will also let in more Afghans who served as interpreters or in other support roles to forces of the US-led coalition but did not meet earlier requirements on time served.
The first group of more than 200 interpreters were flown into the United States on Friday as part of what has been dubbed Operation Allied Refuge amid gains on the ground by the Taliban.