OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says his department will accelerate the processing of the families of interpreters and others who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan to quickly evacuate as many approved people as possible.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mendicino says the department is ramping up the processing of Afghan refugees by adding resources to the operation.
He says the government is not requiring passports or COVID-19 negative tests from the Afghan passengers and is deferring biometric screening to a third country, where it’s safe for the evacuees and the government officials to take the biometrics.
Mendicino says the main obstacle remains the Taliban checkpoints that Afghans have to go through to reach the Kabul airport.
The Department of National Defence Canada announced this week that two C-17 transport aircraft had been deployed to conduct regular flights out of Kabul.
Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said in an email Thursday that the C-17s have been reconfigured to maximize the number of passengers they can carry and have begun to fly in and out of Kabul.
Mendicino says almost 1,000 Afghan refugees have already arrived in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed on the campaign trail Thursday that Canada has military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan to help evacuating Afghan refugees.
Those Afghans include former interpreters and support staff as well as their families, who are now at risk of Taliban arrest or worse for having worked with the Canadian military and other organizations after the militant group took over the country.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.