Canada plans to resettle more than 20,000 Afghans to protect them from Taliban reprisals, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has said.
The plan will focus on people who are particularly vulnerable, including women leaders, human rights defenders, reporters, persecuted religious minorities, and members of the gay and lesbian community, Mendicino said on August 13.
It covers both people who want to leave Afghanistan and those already in neighboring countries.
The effort is in addition to a previously announced initiative to welcome thousands of Afghans who worked for the Canadian government as interpreters and as employees of the Canadian Embassy and their families, Mendicino told a news conference.
"As the Taliban continues to take over more of Afghanistan, many more Afghans' lives are under increasing threat," he said.
Mendicino did not provide a timeline for the resettlement program, but Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said some Canadian special forces were in Afghanistan taking part in the relocation effort.
"The challenges on the ground are quite immense," he said.
The announcement came as the Taliban continues to seize provincial capitals with little resistance from government forces.
"We know the situation is dire. It's getting worse by the hour," Mendicino said.