Only four Afghan refugees brought to UK since Taliban takeover, report claims

UK government pledged to resettle more than 5,000 people in first year

Afghans crowd the tarmac of Kabul airport as they try to flee the country after the Taliban took power on August 16 last year. AFP
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Only a handful of people have been brought to Britain from Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul, an investigation claims.

The UK government pledged to resettle more than 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years as part of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

But an investigation by The Independent claims only four people have been settled in Britain since the Taliban retook control in 2021.

Several thousand Afghan citizens were evacuated during violent scenes at Kabul airport, which culminated in an ISIS suicide bombing that killed 183.

However, many more people, believed to be in the tens of thousands, were left stranded.

The Independent report quotes Ahmed, who worked for the UN, World Bank and a British company undertaking UK government-contracted projects involving the Afghan administration.

The Taliban demanded money from him from the infrastructure projects he was working on. They later shot his wife, who subsequently died from her wounds, during a raid at their family home. He eventually escaped to Pakistan and applied to the UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme with the backing of a British company.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office replied, saying: “We will endeavour to respond to you as quickly as possible.” But he heard nothing for weeks.

He was subsequently told he will qualify to come to the UK, but in the meantime was forced to survive on dwindling savings, moving regularly to evade the Taliban.

Another refugee who was due to board the last evacuation flight but missed it as she was turned back by a group loyal to the Taliban told the newspaper: “I am glad that the Ukrainians could get to Britain and are safe. But the British government don’t work very fast to get us to Britain, do they? I didn’t think they would let us down like this, I really didn’t. It has been a sad lesson.”

Britain opened the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme at the beginning of this year.

The scheme prioritises those who have assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, rule of law and vulnerable people, including women, girls and members of minority groups at risk.

The government plans to resettle more than 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years.

But the policy was criticised by MPs for failing to prioritise the most vulnerable Afghans, including those who helped the UK, with a House of Commons committee report calling it a “betrayal of our allies”.

Figures show the number of Afghan asylum seekers crossing the English channel in small boats has risen five-fold in the past year.

Updated: December 02, 2022, 11:59 AM