The United States announced Friday the suspension of a program that allowed Iraqis to seek refuge in return for helping Americans in Iraq, according to the State Department.
“Effective January 22, 2021, the United States is suspending the Direct Access Program for US-Affiliated Iraqis for 90 days,” acting Secretary of State Daniel Smith said.
The program allowed many Iraqis who helped US troops on the battlefield to find a safe haven in the US.
As an incentive and a way for local residents to cooperate with the US, this program was offered.
The move comes after an investigation unveiled that individuals stole US government records from the State Department’s Worldwide Refugee Admissions system “to take advantage” of the program for US-affiliated Iraqis.
Friday’s move was necessary, Smith said, in order to “further review and address vulnerabilities.”
“The message is clear for those who would seek to take advantage of America’s generosity in welcoming the world’s most vulnerable people – you will be held accountable,” he added.
But the US will continue to provide humanitarian aid. Since 2014, Washington has provided more than $3 billion in humanitarian assistance to Iraq, and for Iraqis in the region, the statement said.
“We recognize the importance of assisting those who legitimately put their lives at risk to provide critical support to the United States in Iraq, and we do not take the decision to suspend this program lightly,” Smith said.
Shortly before the Trump administration left office, then-acting Defense Secretary Christoper Miller said that US troops were cut to 2,500.