Washington DC: The US government is working to finalise an agreement with Qatar to temporarily house thousands of Afghan refugees who worked with the US military, local media has reported.
The situation in Afghanistan is worsening amid the ongoing withdrawal of the US forces from the country. Taliban has seized over half of 34 provincial capitals in the country and it is now closing on Kabul.
A CNN report noted that the number of refugees could go up to 8,000 and if the deal gets signed, the first group of Afghan nationals may soon arrive in Doha.
“We are evaluating all available options. We have no announcements to make on third-country relocation sites for Afghan (Special Immigrant Visas) SIV applicants,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Thursday said that the US would move approximately 1,000 military personnel to Qatar in order to hasten the processing of Afghan SIV Visa applicants.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration had announced the expansion of the refugee program for Afghans who worked with the US. The State Department had said that it will expand access to the US refugee program for certain Afghans amid fears of reprisal by the Taliban as the US military withdrawal nears completion.
“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 but who are not eligible for an SIV because they did not have qualifying employment, or because they have not met the time-in-service requirement to become eligible,” the State Department had said.
“However, in light of increased levels of Taliban violence, the US government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the US, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the US.”