US hails Albania for taking in Afghans

File photo. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a virtual International Leaders Summit on Climate, in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, USA, 22 April 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

The United States on Thursday (19 August) saluted Albania, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Uganda for agreeing to take in Afghans being evacuated in a major airlift after the Taliban victory.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who announced Sunday just as the Taliban were taking over Kabul that he had agreed to a request to accept hundreds of Afghans temporarily on their way to the United States.

Blinken “thanked Prime Minister Rama for continuing Albania’s proud tradition of sheltering people in need,” a State Department statement said. Albania hosted Kosovar refugees during the 1999 NATO-led Kosovo war against the former Yugoslavia.

Albania, Kosovo say ready to temporarily house Afghan refugees

Albania and Kosovo have accepted a US request to temporarily take in Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States, the country two countries said on Sunday (15 August).

The State Department also voiced gratitude to Qatar and Kuwait, two US military hubs where thousands of Afghans are being flown for visa processing, but it is scrambling to find more temporary locations due to rapid overcrowding.

State Department spokesman Ned Price also offered appreciation to Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni voiced willingness to take in Afghans temporarily, and said discussions were ongoing with several European allies to do likewise.

Price named Canada, Chile and Mexico as countries that have agreed to resettle Afghans and praised them for their generosity.

The Canadian government said last week it will take in up to 20,000 Afghan refugees including women leaders, government workers and others facing threats from the Taliban.

The United States has agreed to welcome on a path to citizenship tens of thousands of Afghans who served as interpreters or in other support roles in the 20-year US war effort that was ended by President Joe Biden.

US to begin new Afghan refugee program

US President Joe Biden’s administration will launch a new program to resettle certain Afghans as refugees in the United States, an administration official and two knowledgeable sources said on Sunday (1 August).

As the Taliban swept through the country, the United States expanded its evacuations to others who feel threatened, including women’s rights activists, workers for non-governmental organizations and journalists with US-based media outlets.

European Union nations have also been flying out affiliated Afghans but the bloc’s key members France and Germany have both vowed to prevent irregular migration.

Europe saw a political backlash in 2015 when more than one million asylum seekers, led by Syrians and Afghans, entered the bloc.

Between Belarus and Afghanistan, an EU dispute is looming over migration

EU member states, nervous about a replay of Europe’s 2015-16 migration crisis and a surge of Afghan migrants, agreed on Wednesday (18 August) they need to strengthen their external borders.

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