Just four Afghan refugees resettled in UK since fall of Kabul

Just four Afghan refugees have been brought to safety in the UK since the government’s initial evacuation programme during the fall of Kabul, Home Office figures show.

The Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme aimed to allow 5,000 Afghans into the country in the first year and 20,000 people longer term.

But while 6,314 refugees who are already in the UK have been granted indefinite leave to remain, only 4 people who fled Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban have been resettled.

Charities have condemned ministers for “abandoning the Afghan people” and effectively closing any safe routes to the UK for those at-risk abroad.

The Independent’s Refugees Welcome campaign has called for the government to do more to make the UK a haven for refugees.

It emerged in February that around 6,500 of the places had already been given to Afghans evacuated during Operation Pitting – the UK’s military operation following the Taliban offensive.

However, only four people have been resettled under the second pathway – which receives referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

This means that Afghans who are at-risk in Afghanistan or in a third country effectively have no safe route to the UK.

Stephen Kinncok, Labour’s shadow minister for immigration, said: “Britain owes a debt of gratitude to courageous Afghans who served British interests in Afghanistan, and it is a debt that must be honoured. UN figures show that since last summer at least 160 Afghans been killed through reprisal attacks.

“Operation Warm Welcome has become Operation Cold Shoulder, due to the Conservative Government’s toxic combination of incompetence and indifference.”

He said that ministers “must urgently clear the asylum backlog at home, while working more effectively with the UNHCR to keep the promised they made last autumn to bring vulnerable Afghans to safety.”

Mary Atkinson, campaigns officer at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The disgraceful reality is that government’s own figures show they’ve only resettled four Afghans outside of their initial evacuation programme this year.

“We know this failure is pushing many at-risk Afghans – not least those with links to the UK – into perilous journeys here.”

She continued: “We shouldn’t allow this government to get away with its shameful abandonment of the Afghan people – we need a fully functioning Afghan resettlement scheme now.”

One former senior Afghan prosecutor has been living in immigration limbo in Pakistan for more than a year. Despite having British family members, he has been unable to secure a move to the UK.

The former director of prosecutions for an Afghan province that is home to 500,000 people previously told The Independent that he felt “constantly terrifed” that Taliban networks within Pakistan would find him.

“I am constantly terrified; I am worried that I will go to jail. I don’t know what is going to happen,” the prosecutor said. His case has been referred to the UNHCR but he is still stuck in Pakistan, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The ACRS scheme was designed to help “those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stook up for values such as democracy, freedom of speech, and rule of law” among others, the government said.

Pathway two is for Afghan families who have fled Afghanistan into neighbouring countries, mostly Pakistan or Iran, and have been identified by the UNHCR as in need of resettlement.

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