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Biden Authorizes $100 million for Afghani refugees

President Joe Biden authorizes $100 million in aid from an emergency fund and for Afghan refugees who are at risk for violence and retaliation as the Taliban takes over Afghanistan after US withdrawal. This evacuation and resettlement of Afghani refugees is a crucial part of the Biden Administration’s “Operation Allies Refuge” whose goal is to evacuate Afghans who have assisted the U.S. military during the occupation by providing them with Special Immigrant Visas.

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    Who is eligible for Special Immigrant visas and why must they leave Afghanistan?

    As U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban is quickly gaining control over the country causing those individuals who worked with or for the U.S. government to fear for their safety. As a result, U.S. President Joe Biden authorized up to $100 million from an emergency fund to meet the “unexpected urgent” refugee needs. These needs include processing and issuing Special Immigrant Visas and evacuating families from Afghanistan.

    The first initial groups of evacuees and their families are expected to be flown to Fort Lee, a military base in Virginia, where they will receive medical examinations and await the final processing of their visa applications. It is expected that around 2,500 Afghan refugees will be temporarily housed there although the Biden administration is still reviewing other facilities in the US and overseas that can accommodate Special Immigrant Visa applicants and their families.

    To further help the cause, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation on July 22, 2021, that would increase the number of Special Immigrant Visas issued by 8,000. This would allow for all potentially eligible applicants to be granted immigrant status in the U.S. Currently, there are around 18,000 immigrant visas for Afghan refugees being processed at the moment.

    The Canadian government is also pledging to help Afghani refugees who either worked for or with their military by pledging to fast-track their resettlement to Canada. This decision came about after pressure was put on the Canadian government by military veterans who were worried about the safety and security of their Afghani allies left behind.

    troops boarding a plane

    What is the future for Afghanistan?

    The U.S. will likely have all remaining troops withdrawn from Afghanistan by August 31 which is ahead of Biden’s initial deadline of September 11. As US forces leave the country, the Taliban is quickly taking over Afghanistan including the southern province of Kandahar.

    Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, July 23rd, 2021, that the Taliban will cease fighting when a negotiated government that is accepted by both sides is installed in Kabul and when current Afghani President Ashraf Ghani is removed from office.

    Fears that the Taliban will completely take over the country once US troops have withdrawn still linger. It is estimated that the government put in place will collapse within 6 months after U.S. forces leave Afghanistan. However, President Biden has remained confident that Afghan’s military can defend itself and that a peaceful resolution through negotiations can be met.

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