OTTAWA – The first group of Afghan interpreters, embassy staff and families that Canada is resettling amid threats of Taliban reprisals have arrived, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said on Thursday.
Many Afghans who worked with Canada and other NATO countries fear Taliban violence as U.S. forces depart. Canada announced last month that it would resettle the Afghans amid what it called a dynamic and deteriorating situation.
“Today brings with it a sense of hope, optimism and a sigh of relief for those first Afghan refugees who touched down last night,” Mendicino told a news conference.
Canada will not announce the names of the people involved or where they will be resettled, he said. Ottawa says several thousand people will be eligible.
Washington said this week that thousands more Afghans who may be Taliban targets due to their U.S. affiliations will have the opportunity to resettle as refugees.
The Taliban have stepped up their campaign to defeat the U.S.-backed government since April as foreign forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.
Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan ended a decade ago, after which the country resettled about 800 Afghans who had worked for the country as interpreters or in other roles.