Biden authorizes $100 million in emergency funds to resettle Afghan refugees

US President Joe Biden authorized up to $100 million from an emergency fund to meet “unexpected urgent” refugee needs in Afghanistan, including for Afghan special immigration visa applicants, the White House said.

Biden also approved on Friday the release of $200 million in services and articles from the inventories of US government agencies to meet the same needs, the White House said.

The United States is preparing to begin evacuating thousands of Afghan applicants for special immigration visas (SIVs) who are at risk from the Taliban because they worked for the US government.

The first batch of evacuees and their families is expected to be flown before the end of the month to Fort Lee, a US military base in Virginia, where they will wait for the final processing of their visa applications.

About 2,500 Afghans could be brought to the facility.

The Biden administration is reviewing other facilities in the US and overseas where SIV applicants and their families could be accommodated.

Special immigrant visas are available to Afghans who worked as translators or in other jobs for the US government after the 2001 US-led invasion.

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation that would expand the number of SIVs that could be granted by 8,000, which would cover all potentially eligible applications in the pipeline. About 18,000 such applications are being processed, US officials say.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Canadian government said it will fast-track resettlement of potentially thousands of Afghans who have worked with Canada during the past 20 years but offered few details of who will be eligible or when people will start arriving.

The government has been facing pressure from Canadian veterans worried that Afghans who supported them and their families will face arrest and even death at the hands of the Taliban.

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan emboldened the Taliban to take parts of the country. The captured territory includes parts of the southern province of Kandahar, where the Canadian military spent the longest amount of time during its 13-year mission in the country.

Also on Friday, the US called on the Taliban to negotiate after the group said there will not be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed.