KABUL: The United States is in talks with the Philippines to seek help in temporarily hosting thousands of Afghan refugees who worked for U.S. forces and government before the Taliban took over the country, officials said on Friday. Washington is having a hard time working through the backlog of applications.
The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that a proposed arrangement has been made based on which hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees – especially those who worked for and with the US when it occupied Afghanistan – will be temporarily resettled in the Philippines and then straight to the US.
This is as Washington has accepted to cover all costs should the request be granted, and Afghan refugees were meant to head straight to the US once their applications are finally processed.
The Philippines government has said discussions concerned refugees in the last stages of the infamously long, bureaucratic, and rigorous process of securing an SIV.
However it said Manila “has not entered or finalized any agreement with the United States on the matter”, conceding to ongoing consultations with relevant Philippine government agencies are ongoing.
According to Philippine officials, Washington’s request includes Afghans who worked for the US government during and in the aftermath of its invasion of Afghanistan. Special immigration visas will eventually be issued to them via a facility in the Philippines.
It’s said that there are about 50,000, which includes the families of the Afghan citizens who worked with the United States government.
Afghans – particularly those who worked for and with the US in the past decades – scrambled to find a way out of Kabul in the last days of US presence, in fear of punishment at the hands of the Taliban.
The Biden administration’s estimates place the number of Afghans seeking SIVs at over 150,000 as of March 2023.