The Canadian government has announced that it will permanently re-settle 20,000 “vulnerable” Afghans, including Sikhs and Hindus, who are fleeing the war-torn country amidst a deadly offensive launched by the Taliban militants.
In a blitz assault on Thursday and Friday, the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan’s main cities Herat and Kandahar, encircling national capital Kabul. They are believed to control over two-thirds of the country’s territory and most of its 34 provincial capitals.
“Canada continues to be deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the risks it poses for many vulnerable Afghans. As the Taliban continues to take over more of Afghanistan, Afghans’ lives are under threat-and many have already fled the country,” the Canadian government said in an official statement.
The decision to resettle the 20,000 vulnerable Afghans was taken jointly by Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E L Mendicino, Minister of National Defence Harjit S Sajjan, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau.
Canada will continue to implement the special immigration programme for Afghans who contributed to Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan. In addition, the government now introduces a scheme particularly for vulnerable groups.
“Canadians are deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. People around the world know they can count on Canada to support them in times of need, and Canada will be there for vulnerable Afghans.
Women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, and others covered by this program will be safe here in Canada, and I look forward to welcoming them to our country,” said the Indian-origin minister Mr Sajjan.
The statement mentioned the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation which has in the past helped resettle hundreds of persecuted Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the country.
“Offering refuge to the world’s most vulnerable speaks to who we are as Canadians, particularly in times of crisis. As more Afghan refugees continue to seek shelter in Canada, we’re redoubling our efforts to help 20,000 Afghans refugees-who remain vulnerable wherever they go-find safety here. The situation in Afghanistan is heartbreaking, and Canada will not stand idly by,” said Minister Mendicino.
The latest Taliban assault comes in the backdrop of the US and NATO forces withdrawing from Afghanistan. All foreign troops will leave the war-torn country by August 31.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)