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UK to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban – but just 5k this year

The Tories have finally announced plans to help the Afghans fleeing the Taliban – but the offer has been called “woefully inadequate” by one of their own MPs.

Around 20,000 of the refugees are set to be given sanctuary in the UK over the coming years.

The Home Office has been accused of failing to act quickly enough after it revealed that only 5,000 Afghans facing persecution would be relocated in the first year.

It will leave thousands of vulnerable people at risk of violent recrimination.

The 20,000 is in addition to 5,000 Afghans – whose lives are in danger because they helped the UK – who are coming under an existing scheme. About 2,000 of them are already here.

How have the UK and the US handled the situation? Have your say in the comment section



Taliban forces sit at a checkpost in Kabul
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Image:

REUTERS)




Afghans who apply as part of the new plans are expected to be forced to make the perilous journey to camps in neighbouring countries including Pakistan and potentially Iran.

Refugee groups, opposition parties and Conservatives have criticised the Government for failing to grasp the urgency of the situation for hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan after the Taliban retook the capital Kabul.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, a former Army captain, told the Mirror: “This is a woefully inadequate response given the scale of the refugee crisis we are about to face as a direct response to our withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The Government really needs to see the bigger picture here and grasp the scale of the crisis we created.

“We are capping the numbers to 5,000 for the first year, when the threat is at its greatest. And obliging potential applicants to move to a refugee camp is fraught with danger.”



Stranded Afghan nationals arrive to return back to Afghanistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman
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AFP via Getty Images)




The United Nations says roughly 400,000 people in Afghanistan have been forced to flee their homes since the start of the year, with up to 30,000 leaving the country every week.

After days of dragging his feet, Boris Johnson has set out his plans at last.

The Prime Minister, due to announce the proposals to MPs on Wednesday, said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those who worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years.

“Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help.”



A girl cries as Afghans who are displaced from Kunduz and Takhar provinces due to fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces live in temporary shelters at a camp in Kabul
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Image:

JAWED KARGAR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)




Parliament has been recalled for an emergency debate on Wednesday on the situation in Afghanistan.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The Government’s incompetence in failing to plan for this has left huge numbers of Afghans’ lives in danger, especially women and girls and those who served alongside the British.

“After such catastrophic errors, the Government must step up with a more urgent plan of action.”

The resettlement scheme is based on the one that brought in over 20,000 Syrians from refugee camps over seven years.



Farzia, 28, who lost her husband in Baghlan one week ago to fighting by the Taliban sits with her children, Subhan, 5, and Ismael, 2, in a tent at a makeshift camp
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Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran, who said 20,000 Afghans should be the starting point for resettlement, not the target, added: “There is no time to waste.

“The Taliban are knocking on doors and making lists of those they plan to kill.

“We need these vulnerable people out of the country as soon as possible, instead of the Government’s vague promise of the ‘long term’.”

The Taliban says it will guarantee safety for those who previously opposed them and that it will uphold women’s rights, but within Sharia law.



An internally displaced boy from the northern provinces is comforted by his sister in a public park that they use as shelter in Kabul
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Image:

REUTERS)




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Foreign policy experts have expressed deep scepticism over the claims and warned that Afghans could once again face brutal oppression.

Home Secretary Priti Patel last night chaired a meeting of the Five Eyes intelligence allies – comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US – to identify safe routes for those who have to flee.

Germany says it must urgently evacuate around 10,000 vulnerable people from Afghanistan.

Canada has promised to resettle over 20,000 Afghans who are at risk.

The US figure is roughly 30,000.

Refugee charities had urged UK ministers to offer sanctuary to much higher numbers than 20,000.









The Government fears the Taliban will close Kabul airport, where 900 British troops are helping to evacuate UK nationals and some Afghans.

An Afghan woman in Feltham, West London, was in tears as she spoke of her concerns for her elderly parents who remain in Kabul.

She said: “They were scared when the Taliban came. I am very worried about them. They are old people.”

NHS doctor and former refugee Dr Waheed Arian has called for the Government to treat incoming asylum seekers with compassion.

He added the UK’s response to the humanitarian crisis “has been too late”.

‘We need to take in our share’

– Comment, by Lord Alf Dubs, Kinder Transport Refugee

We owe it to the people of Afghanistan and ourselves to show responsibility by welcoming our share of refugees alongside other countries in Europe and around the world.

The main reason for taking them is humanitarian, to give them safety, but we will enjoy a net gain because they will make a huge contribution to our country.

They are brave, resourceful, committed to civic society and will be hoping to build new lives in their new home country.

There are people in Afghanistan, interpreters, officials and others, who worked with the British armed forces and are going to be in great danger, whatever the Taliban is saying publicly.







We also spent a lot of time trying to build up a civic society and those people, particularly women in Afghanistan, are also in great danger because the Taliban will treat them not with respect but brutality.

They have everything to lose.

And when some people observe that a lot of the children and young adults leaving Afghanistan are boys and men, that is because their families are sending them away to stop the Taliban forcing them to fight.

I know this from talking with child refugees from Afghanistan who have fled to Calais and the Greek islands.

What I fear is the Government will make a small gesture on Afghanistan, letting in some of those who have helped us, while shutting the door on Syrian and other refugees.

Their record isn’t a good one but let’s wait and see what they say and do.











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