Around 300 Afghan citizens are expected to arrive in Ireland in the coming weeks under refugee and family reunification programmes.

They include five young women with science and technology qualifications who have already left Afghanistan because of being targeted by the Taliban.

Arrangements are being made to resettle them in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).

150 humanitarian visas were announced yesterday under the IRPP on top of 45 already committed.

In addition, the applications of 103 Afghans who have applied for family reunification are being fast-tracked.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman, has said they have identified those in Afghanistan who will be arriving in Ireland on humanitarian visas.

Mr O'Gorman said his department worked closely with the departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice to draw up a list of criteria, which he said was focused on those involved in working with vulnerable groups, such as those working with women and those who are human rights defenders.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said they have been in touch with other EU member states and with Irish and other NGOs working on the ground to identify people who fall within this criteria.

Separately, the Department of Justice is fast-tracking family reunification visas for Afghan applicants.

Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne, said these applications are for Afghan family members of Irish citizens and Afghan nationals who are living here.

The Government is working with EU partners and NGOs to get people out of Afghanistan on charter or military flights.

It is not clear when refugees might arrive in Ireland as they will initially be transported to another country as there are no direct flights.

Those arriving on humanitarian or family reunification visas will not have to go into direct provision.

Both Mr O'Gorman and Mr Browne have indicated that the allocation of Afghan visas will increase in the coming days and weeks.

CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, Nick Henderson, has called on the Government to commit to resettling a minimum of one thousand Afghan refugees.

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The Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomed the Government's statement regarding visa applications.

Chief Executive Brian Killoran said the council has Afghan clients who have been waiting for a number of months to be joined by family members from Afghanistan.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme, he said the "intensity and stress" of the last 48 hours has made that need "so much more intense" for them.

Mr Killoran said that at the moment, nobody knows what the next few weeks will hold in terms of the logistics of bringing people here from Afghanistan, but the international community - and the United Nations and Red Cross - will play a big part in the relocation of people.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney joined his European Union counterparts for emergency talks via videolink today on the unfolding developments in Afghanistan.

Speaking after the talks, he said EU member states are "coordinating intensively on the evacuation of EU citizens, as well as on Afghan staff working with EU embassies and organisations".

Meanwhile, a Co Meath woman living in Kabul for the past two years has said the last 36 hours have been "hectic".

Aoife MacManus, who is from Ashbourne and who works in the primary education sector in Kabul, said she has been in some "hairy situations" in the last 24 hours, but that as far as one can be safe in Kabul at the moment, she believes she is "safe right this minute".

Speaking on Morning Ireland, she said she is with friends and is in regular contact with the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

She said they were talking about either military or repatriation flights with different EU countries, while her own organisation is also working on a plane for them to leave.

"So I feel confident that there's a way out within the next 24 to 48 hours", she said. "Probably not today. But even the logistics of getting from where I am to where a military flight would go from might not work today, but it should work tomorrow. So between the embassy and my own organisation I'm sure I'll be out soon."

Ashbourne woman Aoife MacManus

Ms MacManus said the Taliban takeover is something they have been watching over the last several months.

She said the organisation she works with has been in Afghanistan for decades and has "no intention of leaving".

Ms MacManus said the message to her family and friends at home is that she is as safe as she can be and every effort is being made to leave.

"So as soon as the airport is cleared, as soon as things are up and running, I have every faith that I will be on a plane and having a pint of Guinness in Ashbourne in a few days," she said.