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[Newsmaker] 7 in 10 Koreans agree with granting long-term stay visas for Afghan evacuees: survey

Housing Afghan evacuees, Jincheon temporarily closes its online mall after ‘kind spending’ rush

Afghan evacuees on Friday get on the bus to depart for a government-designated temporary shelter in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)
Afghan evacuees on Friday get on the bus to depart for a government-designated temporary shelter in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)
Nearly 7 out of 10 Koreans agree with the government’s plan to grant long-term visas for Afghan evacuees, a survey showed Monday.

The government evacuated 390 Afghan nationals, including people who worked for Korean organizations and their families, and plan to grant them long-term stay visas.

According to Realmeter’s survey, 68.7 percent of the respondents said they “empathize with” the government’s plan whereas 28.7 percent said they do not agree with it.

By age group, people in their 40s had the highest percentage of favorable answers with 81.8 percent agreeing with the government’s plan. On the other hand, 20- and 30-somethings disagreed the most, with 39.9 percent and 39.6 percent disliking the plan to grant long-term stay visas, respectively.

A total of 500 people over the age of 18 across the country took part in the survey, according to Realmeter.

Last week, the government conducted the rescue mission named “Operation Miracle” to airlift 391 Afghans from their home country after the Taliban took control. One was eventually left with the US military in Kabul due to problems with identification.

The evacuees included medical personnel, vocational trainers, interpreters, IT experts and staff who worked for the Korean Embassy in Afghanistan and Korea-led workplaces including hospitals and construction sites.

The Ministry of Justice said that the Afghans, named as “special contributors” to Korea, have been granted short-term stay visas but will eventually receive long-term residential visas, which allows them to work here.

The Afghan evacuees, including 180 children and infants, were admitted to a government-designated facility in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, Friday. They are expected to stay there for eight weeks, including the two-week mandatory self-quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Koreans opened up their wallets for “kind spending” to show support for Jincheon for providing a shelter for the Afghan evacuees.

JC Mall, which is a non-profit online shopping mall run by the regional government of Jincheon to sell locally produced crops, had to suspend sales due to the recent surge in the number of purchase orders.

“Thankfully, the number of orders from Friday until now increased by more than 20 times compared to normal weekend orders,” the website’s operator said in a notice posted Sunday.

“Since most of the products on JC Mall are produced and delivered (by each order), rather than being sold from a large amount of prepared stocks. Currently, the daily production amount of most producers has been exceeded. Therefore, we had to suspend orders for a while to prevent delivery delays for the people who made an order.”

Since the Afghan evacuees on Friday entered the temporary shelter, there have been some 1,500 orders placed on the JC Mall website, according to the operator. The orders will be available again from 10 a.m. Thursday.

The government’s temporary shelter in Jincheon is where 173 South Korean evacuees from Wuhan were held in quarantine in January last year at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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