Afghanistan: 20,000 refugees to resettle in UK under Prime Minister’s plan – but critics say not enough

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Afghanistan: 20,000 refugees to resettle in UK under Prime Minister’s plan – but critics say not enough


The UK will welcome up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans over the next few years under a resettlement plan, following the Taliban takeover of their country.

As part of the new tailor-made program – modeled on the UK’s seven-year program to resettle Syrian refugees – the prime minister pledged that thousands of Afghans who need it most will be resettled in Britain.

The government aims to have up to 5,000 Afghans at risk of the current crisis in their country resettled in the UK in the first year of the program.

Priority will be given to women and girls, as well as religious and other minorities, who are most vulnerable to human rights violations and ill-treatment by the Taliban.

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Boris Johnson will address MPs on the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. Photo: Andrew Parsons / 10 Downing St

Mr Johnson, who spoke with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening, unveiled the plans ahead of a five-hour emergency debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.

But the PM has already faced calls – including from his own Tory MPs – to pledge more generously on welcoming Afghans to the UK.

The government has said the tailor-made resettlement program will be subject to further consideration beyond its first year, with up to 20,000 Afghans in total who have volunteered for long-term resettlement.

Still, former cabinet minister David Davis, a former Conservative leadership candidate, said the UK should seek to accept more than 50,000 Afghans due to “more direct moral responsibility” after the two decades. British military intervention in Afghanistan.

SNP leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said the UK should aim to grant asylum to 35,000 or more Afghan refugees, while the Liberal Democrats have said the resettlement of 20,000 Afghans in Greater Brittany should be “the starting point” and “not the target”.

Labor said the government’s proposed resettlement program “falls short of the scale of the challenge” and risks “putting Afghans at risk of death.”

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Chaos at Kabul airport as people cling to the plane

In addition to questions about the UK’s commitment to vulnerable Afghans, Mr Johnson is also likely to face a discussion in the House of Commons on current efforts to evacuate British nationals from Afghanistan, as well as on how quickly the Taliban were able to regain control of the country. nearly 40 million people.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab might also wonder why he was on vacation abroad when the Taliban entered the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The Syrian Resettlement Program saw 20,000 refugees resettle in the UK between 2014 and its closure earlier this year.

The Home Office admitted that the new Afghan program faced “significant challenges” due to “the complex situation on the ground” in the country, but said ministers were “working quickly” to overcome these obstacles. .

The prime minister is expected to discuss with other world leaders – at a virtual G7 meeting in the coming days – how a system can be developed to identify those most at risk in Afghanistan.

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Taliban hold first press conference

The new Afghanistan program is separate from the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which provides any current or former UK staff member in Afghanistan – and whose life is deemed critically endangered – a priority relocation to UK.

Some 5,000 former Afghan staff and their families are expected to be relocated to the UK by the end of the year under PFRA.

As of June, more than 2,000 former Afghan staff and their families have already been relocated to the UK under this policy.

Work continues to evacuate British nationals, their families and former Afghan personnel from Afghanistan on military flights.

In the middle of warnings of a “horror show” in the Afghan capital Kabul As people struggle to reach planes in order to leave the country, the man in charge of the UK evacuation effort admitted that it was up to those fleeing to make their own way to l city ​​airport.

“Much of this journey is actually for them to undertake,” said Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, Joint Operations Commander, as he offered a stark assessment of the scale of the collapse of Afghanistan. under the control of the Taliban.

“It is quite obvious that the Taliban are now the main providers of security across Afghanistan, it is a fact,” he added.

Since Saturday, 520 British nationals, diplomats and former Afghan personnel have left the country on British military flights.

Sir Ben said a total of 6,000-7,000 UK nationals, eligible persons and PFRA staff may need to be evacuated, although he admitted “we don’t really know” how many long the UK will have to get them out of the country.

The Interior Ministry said the new resettlement program for Afghan refugees “will not compromise national security” and that everyone arriving on the road would have to go through strict security checks.

Commenting on the project, the Prime Minister said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to all who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the past 20 years.

“Many of them, especially the women, are now in dire need of our help. I am proud that the UK was able to put this route in place to help them and their families live safely in the UK.

“The best solution for everyone is an Afghanistan that works for all Afghans.

“This means that the international community comes together to establish firm political conditions for the future governance of the country.

“And that means focusing our efforts on increasing the resilience of the wider region to avert a humanitarian emergency. “

Interior Minister Priti Patel said the program would “save lives”.

“We will not abandon the people who were forced to flee their homes and now live in terror of what could happen next,” she added.

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