Shomporko Online News Desk: On the ground in Afghanistan, Canadian officials are identifying persons who may be qualified for a new “road to protection” for Afghans who aided Canadian forces during the country’s war.
The government’s announcement comes at a “critical” time for those who have assisted Canadian soldiers and now face death and torture as a result of the Taliban’s swift progress across the country, according to Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
Details on the program are scarce so far but Mendicino said the program will welcome the Afghans and their families as refugees for resettlement. He said while the numbers are in flux, the estimate is that Afghans eligible under the program will be in the “thousands.”
Mendicino said the plan will focus on special immigration measures for Afghan interpreters, Afghans who have worked or are currently working to support the Canadian embassy, as well as their families.
It is also being kept deliberately broad in scope, and will also apply to those who worked in roles such as security guards, cooks, cleaners, drivers, and other roles in support of the embassy.
“We know that time is of the essence,” said Mendicino.
“We expect the first arrivals will be in Canada very shortly.”
Work continues to try to identify the Afghans who will be eligible, he said, but did not provide details when asked on how many individuals will be able to come to Canada or what the timeline is for the effort.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said they could not provide further details because of “operational security,” and said planning with coalition allies on logistics is underway.
“The plan itself has to be guarded for the safety of the people we’re trying to bring to Canada,” he said.
Canada withdrew troops from Afghanistan in 2011 but after roughly 20 years, U.S. forces are now also in the process of withdrawing from the country after waging a war to remove the Taliban from power.
The Taliban are Islamist extremists who enforce sharia law and held power in Afghanistan from roughly 1996 to 2001 when coalition forces overthrew them.
Now, the Taliban insurgency has been making rapid gains and now holds roughly half of the 421 districts as U.S. forces retreat, raising concerns that the militant extremists will be in a position to support other regional terrorist groups like ISIS and also target those who helped Canadian forces during the war.
Thousands of people have fled the Taliban advance.
Former military officials and veterans of Canada’s struggle in Afghanistan have been pressing the government to move quickly to honor the “moral commitment” this country owes to the Afghans who supported the coalition effort as the fighters recover large areas of terrain.
On Friday, Mendicino reaffirmed those comments.
“Not only does Canada owe them a debt of gratitude, but we also have a moral need to do right by them,” he added, calling the threat of Taliban vengeance “grave.”
Source_ the Canadian press