US refugee group wants Afghans welcomed like Ukrainians are
Washington: Refugee advocates are calling on the US government to welcome refugees from across the world - including Afghanistan - after President Joe Biden's announcement of parole for Ukrainians that will make it easier for them to resettle in the US.
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) said that while it welcomes the move to bring refugees from Ukraine to the US, it would like to see the same approach taken for refugees from other countries.
It comes after Biden announced the launch of the 'Uniting for Ukraine' programme on Thursday, which streamlines the process for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the US.
"It's a welcome announcement that the Biden administration is trying to do something to help the people of Ukraine get to the US and share some of the responsibility the European partners are taking on," IRAP policy director Sunil Varghese told The New Arab.
"At the same time, there are concerns. First, the plan the administration announced is not really a refugee plan. It’s humanitarian parole, which is a short-term solution. The second important thing to make clear is that many of these things are not happening for other people."
Varghese noted that provisions are currently being made for Ukrainians to bypass the consular protocols due to the US embassy and consulate closures.
Similar provisions are not being made however in Afghanistan, where thousands of Afghans who worked with the US are trying to flee after the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
Moreover, he is concerned about the administration giving refugees parole that provides only temporary residency assistance rather than the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) which puts them on the pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.
IRAP is using the occasion of the one-year milestone of the Biden administration’s announcement last April of the US' full withdrawal from Afghanistan to raise awareness of the disparate treatments of Ukrainians compared with other refugees and emphasise the importance of all refugees being treated with dignity.
"The US should be trying to find pathways to everyone looking for refugee protection," Varghese said.
"It would have been better to have an expedited refugee plan. One of the hopes is that with all this energy the US government can do more than one thing at a time so that it can be used in the next situation."