The government has been warned that Afghan refugees who are eligible for Britain’s resettlement scheme “may die before it is operational” after a three-month delay.
Ministers promised to relocate 20,000 people after the Taliban took over the country in August, but the plan has yet to begin and is still in the design stage.
Campaigners accused the government of being “sluggish” after failing to prepare for the consequences of a military withdrawal from Afghanistan, while a lawmaker said one of its constituents had already killed two relatives by the Taliban.
The delay comes as the government takes steps to criminalize all asylum seekers arriving in the UK by small boats or other irregular routes. At least 10 migrants are believed to have drowned in the English Channel in recent weeks.
Victoria Atkins, the minister responsible for Afghan resettlement, told the House of Commons: “We are working urgently with the government and partners such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to design the plan.
“We continue to support the thousands of people successfully evacuated from Afghanistan as part of Operation Pitting, and we will continue to support those who are under the plan.”
Labor MP Helen Hayes said a brother of one of her constituents was hiding in Afghanistan with his wife and children.
She said: “Since the evacuation ended, they have lost an uncle and a cousin, both murdered by the Taliban, and have received many threatening messages. They live in daily fear for their lives, Yet the government will not issue papers to give them the best chance of a safe passage into the UK via a third country.”
Ms Atkins said the security situation in Afghanistan meant the UK had no consular presence in the country but was “working at speed” to set up the resettlement process.
“We want to set this scheme as an example of a safe and legal route under the government’s new immigration plan,” he said.
Labor MP Bambos Charlambas said: “There is a real risk that the people it is intended to help will die before it becomes operational.”
Ms Atkins said 15,000 people had been evacuated as part of the Operation Pitting emergency operation, and agreements were in place with third countries to evacuate more from Afghanistan.
He stressed that Britain was “fulfilling its commitment” to translators and other Afghans who had been targeted by the Taliban by their work with the British military.
Louis Calvey, head of services at the charity Refugee Action, said: “It is unforgivable that ministers are still obsessing over the details of its Afghan resettlement plan, three months after the fall of Kabul.
“These delays are partly due to the government’s previous refusal to have a long-term rehabilitation program, which had not fully prepared it when it was needed.
“But this is no excuse not to help now. Ministers should urgently use the already ongoing UK resettlement scheme to identify and relocate vulnerable Afghan refugees so that they can safely begin rebuilding their lives here. Can do
Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said she was “disappointed” by the delay, adding: “The situation in Afghanistan remains very dangerous, with many people at risk of persecution. The government needs an immediate explanation of this.” What is needed is when we can expect the scheme to start.
During the same parliamentary debate, Priti Patel defended a suite of new laws that would criminalize any refugee – including Afghans – who cross the English Channel on small boats or by any other means with a “clearance of entry”. without crossing.
“The new scheme of immigration and the Nationality and Boundary Bill are important for a comprehensive reform of the entire system,” the home secretary told Parliament. “There is no single solution.”
Several Conservative lawmakers said their constituents were outraged at the more than 25,000 channel crossings so far this year – more than three times the total for 2020 – and wanted action.
During Monday’s debate, the home secretary did not confirm whether the planned bot push-back took place, or whether the government would “offshore” asylum seekers in a third country.
Labor’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds urged Ms Patel to “accept responsibility” for the situation rather than “empty rhetoric and broken promises”.
He added: “The government deal with the French authorities is failing. The government has closed safe routes such as the dubbed scheme, and they have cut aid budgets, which was addressing the reasons people leave their homes. Why do you run?
“Last week, the Home Secretary again vowed to make the Channel crossing route impractical, but nothing happens, and more and more people continue to risk their lives.”
Mr Thomas-Symonds accused the Home Secretary of “losing the trust of not only the country, but his allies”, after failing to replace a deal lost in Brexit that allowed asylum seekers to return to EU countries. which they had previously passed.
Ms. Patel replied: “Answer to the correct answer. The gentleman’s question is not there, throughout.”
She later said that the situation “would be much worse if it were not for the already unfinished business” by the government.
Several lawmakers called on the Home Secretary to withdraw previous claims that 70 percent of people crossing the Channel were…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /