Shaun Tandon, Agence France-Presse, August 2, 2021
The United States said Monday it was ready to take in thousands more Afghans whose US links put them at growing risk but acknowledged an arduous path ahead for its allies as Taliban insurgents make gains.
Less than a month before the United States is set to end its longest-ever war, the State Department broadened refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 Afghans who have applied under a program for interpreters who assisted US forces and diplomats.
The State Department said that greater priority will now also go to Afghans employed by US-based media organizations or non-governmental organizations or on projects backed by US funding.
“Afghans who worked with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.
“We have a special responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them.”
Blinken said the United States 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.
A second flight of 400 Afghan interpreters and their families arrived Monday in the United States, Blinken said, after 200 landed on Monday as part of what has been dubbed Operation Allied Refuge.
Another US official said that Washington, while not helping the new applicants escape, has asked other countries including Pakistan to keep their borders open to them.
The State Department is designating the new refugees under so-called Priority 2, the same level given to persecuted minorities from a number of countries.