The United States government will launch a new programme to resettle
Afghans as refugees in the US, Reuters quoted a Biden administration official
and two sources as saying on Saturday.

The US State Department is expected to announce the establishment of a ‘Priority
Two’ refugee programme, the sources told Reuters. Although no official comment was
made on behalf of the state department.

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The programme comes at a time when the US is gearing up to formally
withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, leaving the war-torn country in a battle
between the civilian administration and the Taliban.

The Biden administration has faced pressure from lawmakers and advocacy
groups to help Afghans who worked on US-funded projects in course of the
20-year war.

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According to the Biden administration official, the new refugee programme
would cover Afghans who worked on projects funded by the US as well as those
who worked in non-government bodies and media houses.

In essence, the programme will seek to cover Afghans who do not qualify for
the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) programme that will cover interpreters and
others who worked for the US government as well as their families.

Nearly 200 SIV applicants, whose visas are in the final processing stages,
arrived in the US last week initiating the “Operation Allies Refuge”, the US’
evacuation programme.

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The new arrivals are stationed at a military base in Virginia and will
remain there before being resettled around the country.

The new programme will require Afghan refugees to be referred by US officials,
agencies or non-government bodies. This feature of the programme is in stark
contrast to the Priority Two programme for Iraqi refugees which allowed Iraqi
refugees to apply directly without a referral.

The programme for Iraqi refugees has been suspended indefinitely while US
officials investigate allegations of fraud on the programme.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan continues to see violence as Afghan government
forces retaliate by bombing Taliban holdings causing massive migration in
war-affected parts of the country.