The United States said Monday it will take in thousands more Afghan refugees, fearing for the safety of people with US associations as America ends its longest war.
The State Department said it will expand the eligibility of refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 Afghans who have already applied -- with some being evacuated out -- under a program for interpreters who assisted US forces.
"In light of increased levels of Taliban violence, the US government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the United States," the State Department said in a statement.
"This designation expands the opportunity to permanently resettle in the United States to many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members who may be at risk due to their US affiliation," it said.
The State Department said that the expanded eligibility will include Afghans who worked with US-based media organizations or non-governmental organizations or on projects backed by US funding.
The State Department will also let in more Afghans who served as interpreters or in other support roles to forces of the US-led coalition but did not meet earlier requirements on time served.
The State Department is designating Afghan refugees with US affiliations under so-called Priority 2, the same level given to persecuted minorities from a number of countries.
President Joe Biden has ordered a withdrawal of remaining US troops by the end of the month, ending the longest war in US history.
With the Taliban going on the offensive, the Biden administration acknowledges fears for the stability of the internationally backed government.
But it insists that the United States has done all that it can and has accomplished its priority mission of eliminating al-Qaeda extremists who carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks.