Concern that vulnerable people promised sanctuary under scheme have been left at ‘back of the queue’
MPs and charities have expressed anger after the ホームオフィス admitted that some of the first people to be accepted under the new Afghan resettlement will be relatives of UK nationals who are already in Britain.
Ministers have been accused of “breaking promises” to vulnerable アフガニスタン人 currently trapped in the country, such as women, girls and religious and other minorities, after immigration minister Victoria Atkins revealed that they would not be prioritised in the first year of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).
スキーム, first announced in August and set to resettle up to 20,000 people in four years, was designed to offer sanctuary to “vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk” following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Ms Atkins announced that the scheme had now opened, with “the first to be resettled […] already evacuated and in the UK”.
“They include women’s rights activists, journalists and prosecutors, as well as the Afghan families of British nationals," 彼女は言いました.
“We are supporting those British nationals who have been assisted by the government to the UK, as well as their families, because we recognise that they experienced the same trauma and have the same needs as their Afghan neighbours fleeing Kabul alongside them.”
独立者 understands that thousands of British nationals and their family members were evacuated from Kabul to the UK in August, alongside some 8,000 Afghans who worked for the British Army and their families, who are being resettled in the UK under a separate scheme, the Afghan Relocation Assistance Policy (ARAP).
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said in response to Ms Atkins’ statement: “Clearly British nationals and their families should get support, but why are they being counted in the resettlement scheme?
“She will know there is huge concern about rumours that government departments have been trading people and trying to shunt people around in order to reduce the number of people who will be supported, and she will understand how deeply shameful that would be if it were true.”
Ms Cooper also requested to know how many people would be brought to the UK under the resettlement scheme in its first year ni addition to those already in Britain, to which Ms Atkins did not respond.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said he was “very concerned” that the target of supporting up to 20,000 people through the scheme would include Afghans who have already arrived in the UK, which he said meant not all of these places would be “new” places.
彼が追加した: “The announcement made today only goes as far as confirming that people in neighbouring countries will be able to access the scheme from the Spring and that the pathway for people still in アフガニスタン will be limited to a small cohort of people in the first year, leaving thousands of extremely vulnerable people in great danger.”
Ms Atkins announced three pathways for potential resettlement under the scheme: one for those already in the UK; one via the UNHCR for those who have fled Afghanistan, starting in the Spring; and a specific pathway for those in Afghanistan who are at risk.
しかしながら, the minister announced strict criteria for the third pathway – appearing to rule out resettlement of vulnerable women, children and minorities in Afghanistan in the first year of the scheme’s operation.
In response to this, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said the government had “broken its promise” to women, 女の子, and religious and other minorities in Afghanistan in August that they would be a priority under the scheme, and that these groups were now “at the back of the queue”.
“This represents a total betrayal of people in grave danger. The ministers responsible for this callous decision – which will cost lives – should hang their heads in shame," 彼が追加した.
Ms Atkins refuted his claim, 言って: “We have already flown over people who fulfil that criteria.”
She separately told the House that the process of selecting Afghans for transfer to the UK under one of the scheme was “very difficult”, 追加する: “We are going to have to make some very difficult decisions.
“There are a population of approximately 40 million people in Afghanistan and very many of them are very scared, and so we must apply these principles, and apply them knowing that there will be some we can’t help, very sadly.”