UK Will Take 20,000 Afghanistan Refugees – Prioritising Women, Girls And Those Facing Persecution
The Home Office has said 20,000 Afghan refugees will be given a home in the UK, with 5,000 people permitted to come to the country in the first year of a new resettlement scheme.
The Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme will be offered to those forced to flee their homes or who have faced threats of persecution from the Taliban. It mirrors a scheme set up by former prime minister David Cameron in 2015 for those leaving war-torn Syria, which also took 20,000 people.
A statement from the Home Office said priority will be given to Afghan women and girls, and religious and other minorities most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the new regime who effectively took control of the country on Sunday.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "I want to ensure that as a nation we do everything possible to provide support to the most vulnerable fleeing Afghanistan so they can start a new life in safety in the UK, away from the tyranny and oppression they now face."
The scheme is in addition to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) which was set up in April this year. This was created for those who worked for the British government during the war as well as interpreters and their families and is expected to take around 5,000 people.
However former Cabinet minister David Davis MP is among the many political voices who believe the UK should be taking more people. He told HuffPost UK that the country had a “direct moral responsibility” to offer asylum to Afghans, and in greater numbers than the scheme for those escaping Syria, suggesting 50,000 would be a fairer number. Afghanistan has twice the population of Syria and British forces were based there between 2001 and 2014.
The Home Office said since Saturday 520 British nationals, diplomats and former Afghan staff have left the country on UK military flights.
It also warned that due to the chaotic picture on the ground – which has included frantic scenes of people trying to cram onto military planes – there would be difficulties in delivering the scheme in full immediately, but it would try to take 5,000 in the first year, with 5,000 in subsequent years.
The Taliban said today it would let people leave Afghanistan if were eligible to, however there are currently no civilian flights arriving into or leaving the country.
Boris Johnson said: "We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last twenty years.
"Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help. I am proud that the UK has been able to help them and their families live safely in the UK."
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