‘We will be by their side’: Thousands of Afghans fled to US amid Taliban incursion

The United States unveiled a new visa program for thousands of Afghans who aided coalition forces during nearly two decades of war.

Thousands of Afghans who assisted US personnel during the two-decade war in Afghanistan will be offered refuge as the Taliban continue their brutal march through the country.

Coalition forces such as the United States and Australia withdrew almost all of their troops from Afghanistan, while the Taliban launched attacks on key provincial towns.

The United States continued to evacuate eligible Afghans and their families who assisted America during the war through the Special Immigration Visa program.

About 400 people have arrived in the United States since Friday as part of Operation Allies Refuge, while more than 1,000 claimants and their families are in the process of relocating.

But Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday that the United States would expand its visa program to those who were not eligible but “who have helped us and deserve our help.”

The new Priority 2 visa program will extend to Afghans who did not meet the minimum duty time, were contractors, worked for a US-funded program, or were employed by a media organization or NGO based in the United States. United States.

“Even as we withdraw our forces from Afghanistan, the United States and our partners remain deeply engaged,” Blinken said.

“We take our responsibility to our Afghan partners very seriously, and we know the American people do too.

“We have a special responsibility towards these people. They were standing with us. We will be at their side.

While the current special immigration visa allows evacuations from Afghanistan, the new P-2 program will require Afghan residents to find their way to another country on their own before entering the United States.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said P-2 visa holders should be out of Afghanistan before treatment begins due to security concerns.

“To put it very simply, this is due to the security situation in Afghanistan and the lack of resettlement infrastructure, including personnel in place in the country,” Price said.

Throughout the decade-long counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and the national reconstruction that followed, Australian and US forces relied heavily on local Afghan personnel.

Hundreds of interpreters, security agents and drivers who assisted coalition forces are now threatened by reports that some have died at the hands of the Taliban.

About 60 interpreters are said to have obtained a locally recruited citizen visa and airlifted to Australia, but there are still 300 employees awaiting approval.

This does not include the many other Afghan residents who were not directly employed by the Australian government and are not eligible for the visa.

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