US senators seek emergency refugee protection for Afghan Sikhs, Hindus

US senators seek emergency refugee protection for Afghan Sikhs, Hindus

President Donald Trump. File photo

Washington, June 27

As many as 20 US senators have urged the Trump administration to grant emergency refugee protection to Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan facing persecution as religious minorities.

In a bipartisan letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the senators called on the State Department to prioritise resettlement opportunities under the US Refugee Admissions Program allocation ceilings for Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities.

The population of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan has plummeted markedly due to years of persecution by the Taliban and more recent terrorist actions perpetrated by ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K), they said.

“This administration has repeatedly highlighted protecting religious freedom as a top foreign policy priority,” the senators wrote.

“Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan face an existential threat from the ISIS-K because of their religion. To protect religious freedom, we urgently ask that you take these essential steps to defend these threatened religious minorities,” they said in the letter.

The letter also calls on Pompeo to offer additional support to members of the Sikh and Hindu communities that choose to remain in Afghanistan, and to ensure that Afghan religious minorities benefit from the US $20.6 million in American aid already provided to address Covid-19. — PTI

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