Thousands more Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence due to their U.S. affiliations will have the opportunity to resettle as refugees in the United States under a program announced by the State Department on Monday.
Reuters first reported earlier on Monday the plans to set up the “Priority Two” refugee program, covering Afghans who worked for U.S.-funded projects and for U.S.-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 U.S. 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 U.S. government, and their families.