Biden authorizes $100MN emergency fund for Afghan refugees

Biden authorizes $100MN emergency fund for Afghan refugees

According to the White House, US President Joe Biden has authorised up to $100 million from an emergency fund to address “unexpected urgent” refugee requirements arising from the situation in Afghanistan, including for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants.

According to the White House, Biden also authorised the release of $200 million in services and goods from the inventory of US federal agencies on Friday to fulfil the same requirements.

The US is prepared to begin removing hundreds of Afghan applicants for special immigration visas (SIVs) who are facing Taliban attacks because they worked for the US administration.

The first group of refugees and their families is scheduled to be transported to Fort Lee, a US military post in Virginia, by the end of the month, where they will await the final processing of their visa applications.

The Pentagon said on Monday that around 2,500 Afghans may be sent to the facility, which is located about 48 kilometres (30 miles) south of Richmond.

The Biden administration is looking at additional US institutions in the US and abroad that might house SIV applicants and their families.

Afghans who served as interpreters or in other positions for the US government following the US-led invasion in 2001 are eligible for special immigration visas.

The US House of Representatives approved legislation on Thursday that will increase the number of SIVs available by 8,000, covering all potentially qualified applications in the pipeline.

According to US authorities, around 18,000 such applications are now being handled.

The Canadian government said earlier on Friday that it will expedite the resettlement of thousands of Afghans who have worked with Canada over the last 20 years, but provided few specifics about who will be eligible or when individuals who are currently in danger from the Taliban will begin coming.

Canadian veterans have been pressuring the government, fearful that Afghans who helped them and their families will be arrested and killed by the Taliban.

President Joe Biden was expected to talk with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani via phone later in the day, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

“For the safety and security of the Afghans, as well as the Canadian teams who are already on the ground, we have to safeguard the precise details of how this operation will be carried out, as well as exactly when it will begin,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

The Taliban were encouraged by the departure of US troops from Afghanistan, and they took control of sections of the country. Parts of the southern province of Kandahar were seized, and it was here that the Canadian troops spent the most time throughout its 13-year campaign in Afghanistan.

On Friday, the US called on the Taliban to talk after the organisation said that there will be no peace in Afghanistan until President Ashraf Ghani is gone and a new administration is formed in Kabul.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson who is also a part of the group’s negotiation team, set out the Taliban’s position on what should happen next in a country on the verge of collapse in an interview with The Associated Press.

When a negotiated administration acceptable to all parties in the war is established in Kabul and Ghani’s government is removed, Shaheen believes the Taliban will lay down their arms.

During a news briefing held over the phone, State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said “we call on the Taliban to engage in serious negotiations to determine a political road map for Afghanistan future that leads to a just and durable settlement.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, reaffirmed Biden’s support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Biden was expected to talk with Ghani via phone later in the day, according to her.

“The president and the administration supports the leadership of the Afghan people, including Ashraf Ghani,” Psaki told reporters.

“I would note that there are ongoing political negotiations and discussions that we certainly support between Afghan leaders, members of the Afghan government and the Taliban. And we believe a political solution is the only outcome to lasting peace in Afghanistan,” she said.

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