UK preparing refugee scheme to resettle vulnerable Afghans
Reports say the scheme could be similar to the one used to settle Syrian refugees.
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The UK is set to unveil a “bespoke” resettlement scheme for vulnerable Afghan refugees as efforts continue to get British nationals and other support staff back home following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.
Full details of the scheme are yet to be revealed, but it’s anticipated that support will be focused on helping women and girls, many of whom fear a return to the extreme misogyny of prior Taliban rule.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- Boris Johnson is expected to announce a resettlement scheme for Afghans fleeing the Taliban in the coming days, according to No 10.
- The Telegraph has reported that the concept may bear similarity to the scheme used to take in Syrian refugees in 2015, where women with children, survivors of torture and people with serious medical problems were prioritised.
- The Home Office has also eased restrictions on the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap): the programme to resettle Afghan nationals who have supported British efforts in the central Asian country. The requirement for applications to be made in Afghanistan has been removed.
- In addition to this, there’ll be an effort to secure support for the people of Afghanistan, including through increased humanitarian assistance and agreeing expectations of whatever government emerges in Afghanistan.
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has refused to rule out sanctions against the Taliban if they fail to co-operate internationally.
What’s been said
Asked whether women’s rights activists could be among those to be welcomed to Britain, through the scheme, army minister James Heappy said:
“It is not in my gift as the minister for the armed forces to say here and now, yes they should, but I know their cries are not falling on deaf ears.”
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The UK team in Afghanistan is working around the clock in incredibly difficult circumstances to help British nationals and as many others as we can get to safety as soon as possible.
“At the same time, we are bringing together the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis emerging in Afghanistan – it’s in everyone’s interest not to let Afghanistan fail.
“That means providing whatever support we can to the Afghan people who have worked so hard to make the country a better place over the last twenty years and who are now in need of our help.”
The western world has been reeling since the Taliban took Kabul on Sunday in an offensive which moved far quicker than anticipated.
The extremist group has now laid claim to Afghanistan for the first time in almost 20 years, with thousands of foreign nationals and residents fleeing to the city airport in an attempt to escape.
Boris Johnson is said to be calling for high-level international discussions on the unfolding crisis, including using the UK’s G7 presidency to call a virtual meeting in the “coming days”.
He wants G7 leaders to focus on ensuring Afghanistan does not once again become a source of international terrorist threats, No 10 said.
Additional reporting by PA.
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