Joe Biden addresses fallout of Afghanistan troop withdrawal
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The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has sparked a Taliban take over, ousting the current government. A wave of refugees fleeing extremist rule is already well underway, with heartbreaking footage showing people clinging to the exterior of planes in a desperate bid to exit the country. The Taliban had previously agreed to give open passage to those trying to leave, but in recent days have rescinded this pledge – firing warning shots into the air as hundreds of desperate Afghans jam the road to the airport in a bid to escape.
The UK Government has committed to welcoming 5,000 “Afghan nationals who are at risk due to the current crisis, in its first year” – rising to “a total of 20,000 in the long-term”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last twenty years. Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help.
“I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will save lives.”
What is the US doing to help Afghan refugees?
US President Joe Biden has committed to withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan by September 11.
In the weeks before the withdrawal, the US and its allies have been evacuating Afghans who helped them in the war.
Under Taliban rule, those who helped the US and its allies, such as interpreters, would not be safe.
Many Afghans who helped US operations have been evacuated to the US under what is being called Operation Allies Refuge.
While the Department of Defence has drawn up similar plans to the UK in a bid to resettle refugees.
According to the latest reports the US could house more than 30,000 people fleeing Afghanistan.
The main programme designed to help Afghans resettle in the US is a State Department programme known as Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans.
This initially offered Afghans who worked with the US refuge in America but has been expanded to increase the numbers eligible for this programme.
Up to 34,500 could be relocated to the US, as the scheme has been opened up to surviving spouses and children of those killed by the Taliban.
Both the US and UK are expected to prioritise those deemed most at risk from the Taliban.
The Home Office said in a statement: “The complex picture on the ground means there will be significant challenges delivering the scheme, but the government is working at speed to address these obstacles.”
Ms Patel said: “I want to ensure that as a nation we do everything possible to provide support to the most vulnerable fleeing Afghanistan so they can start a new life in safety in the UK.”
Resettlement programmes will prioritise women, girls and those from religious minorities as they will be most at risk from the Taliban.
Resettling refugees won’t be an easy task for either government.
The Taliban is seizing control of the key routes out of the country.
Now that the Afghan government has fallen and most US and UK troops are withdrawing – many civilian routes out of Afghanistan have been blocked.
The speed of the Taliban’s advance has meant many applications won’t be processed before the Taliban take back full control leaving thousands effectively trapped in Afghanistan.
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