Toronto: Canada will resettle up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghan nationals including female activists and journalists as the Taliban terror group (banned in Russia) advances in its bid to reclaim control of the war-torn country, Ottawa announced.
“Canada will build on our earlier special immigration program to welcome over 20,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees, in total,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said during a press briefing on Friday.
Last week, Ottawa announced that it would resettle “thousands” of Afghans through special immigrant programs designed for those who assisted Canadian military efforts in Afghanistan, in particular, interpreters, who the Taliban views as traitors and have vowed vengeance against.
Canada’s minister noted Friday’s announcement would be in addition to the efforts to relocate those who provided direct assistance to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
Mendicino said the Canadian government will welcome individuals at greatest risk of Taliban reprisals, including women leaders, human rights activists, journalists and members of the so-called LGBT community.
The fourth flight carrying refugees landed in Canada just a “few hours ago,” Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan said during the same press briefing. The first flight carrying Afghan refugees touched down in Toronto on August 4, carrying an unspecified number of people, with the second and third flights arriving on August 8 and 11, according to Canada’s defense chief.
According to Sajjan, the Canadian government requested the military’s help with the resettlement operation on July 30.
Ottawa has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Alberta-based Manmeet Singh Bhullar foundation to relocate Sikhs and Hindus displaced by the Taliban offensive.
Canada, as well as other countries including the United States, are working to assist interpreters and other Afghans facing imminent danger amid the US withdrawal from the war-torn country.
The scramble comes amid a Taliban advance, which has seen the terror group capture 15 of 34 Afghan provincial capitals including Kandahar, Herat and Pol-e-Khomri in spate of one week.
The Canadian military, which was primarily active in Kandahar, exited the Afghan war in 2014.