Washington authorises US$100 million for Afghan migration aid

Afghan former interpreters for the US and Nato forces gather during a demonstration in downtown Kabul in April 2021.
Afghan former interpreters for the US and Nato forces gather during a demonstration in downtown Kabul in April 2021.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Joe Biden on Friday (July 23) authorised the use of up to US$100 million (S$130 million) to address migration emergencies related to the situation in Afghanistan, the White House said.

The statement said the money would come from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund "for the purpose of meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs, victims of conflict, and other persons at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan."

The funds will also support those applying to the State Department programme of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), under which some 20,000 Afghans who worked as interpreters for the United States during its war in the country and now fear retribution from Taleban insurgents have applied for evacuation.

The funds could be distributed on both a bilateral and multilateral basis through contributions or funding to international organisations, non-governmental groups, governments and US bodies, the statement added.

The Taleban has pressed a sweeping offensive across Afghanistan in recent months, capitalising on the last stages of the US troop withdrawal, due to be completed by the end of August, and raising fears of a potential humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations recently estimated half of Afghanistan's 39 million people are in need of aid, and called on the international community to maintain financial support for the country.