Germany launches new program to help at-risk Afghans

BERLIN (AP) — The German government said Monday that it is launching a new program to help to bring about 1,000 people who are at risk of persecution in Afghanistan to Germany each month.

The program is part of an agreement between the three governing parties. It provides a formal structure for the way German authorities were already handling applications from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover last year.

Officials said the program is aimed at Afghan citizens who are at risk because of their work for women’s and human rights. Also eligible are journalists, scientists, political activists, judges educators and those persecuted for their gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Germany has given refuge to about 26,000 people from Afghanistan since August 2021. Many of those had previously worked for the German military or police during their deployment in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the new humanitarian relocation program is intended to give those persecuted by the Taliban “a bit of home and the chance of a free, self-determined and secure life.”

She acknowledged that it would be a “mammoth task” to implement the program, including safely getting applicants from Afghanistan to Germany.

“But we won’t let up,” she said.

Applicants will need to be nominated for the program by civil society groups approved by the German government.

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