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British Govt. plans to take Afghan refugees

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18 Aug 2021 10:39 AM GMT
British Govt. plans to take Afghan refugees
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to tell members of parliament that there must be an immediate increase in aid to Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis erupting in the country. Johnson said the aid was to assist the sufferings of Afghanistans due to the crisis in the country following the Taliban’s seizure of […]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to tell members of parliament that there must be an immediate increase in aid to Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis erupting in the country.

Johnson said the aid was to assist the sufferings of Afghanistans due to the crisis in the country following the Taliban’s seizure of power.

Members of Parliament would return to parliament from their summer break for an emergency sitting on Wednesday, after Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell to the militants on Sunday.

Johnson and the government had come under increasing pressure over the handling of the downfall of the Western-backed government and the subsequent evacuation of British nationals and local allies.

On Tuesday night, Johnson announced a new settlement scheme, which would allow up to 20,000 Afghan vulnerable refugees to seek sanctuary in Britain over the coming years.

He was also expected to tell parliamentarians of the steps the international community needs to take to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.

This included the immediate increase in humanitarian aid to the country and the surrounding region as well as a longer-term project to support refugees.

But the settlement scheme was criticised as falling short of what was needed, and Johnson can expect to come under fire from former Armed Services personnel on his own backbenches as he updates parliamentarians on the work done to mitigate the crisis so far.

Protests were also planned outside of parliament calling for support for Afghans and their families who have worked with the allies.

Speaking to U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday night, Johnson stressed the importance of work in the region and not to lose the gains of the last 20 years.

A Spokesperson for Johnson said: “the Prime Minister and President Joe Biden agreed on the need for the global community to come together to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.’’

While Home Secretary Priti Patel, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said Britain had committed to taking in 5,000 refugees.

He said these refugees were at risk of persecution by the Taliban in the first year of the new settlement scheme and up to 20,000 overall the country could not take all the strain alone.

The newspaper reported that Johnson had spoken to the French and German governments, and Patel led talks with the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. would identify safe and legal routes for those who needed to leave Afghanistan.

But opposition parties said this was not enough and criticised the scope of the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, which would give priority to women and girls, as well as religious and other minorities.

Human rights groups also hit out at government plans over immigration more widely.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, welcomed that a scheme was now in place but said there needed to be a more urgent plan of action.

“This proposal does not meet the scale of the challenge. Not only does that risk leaving people in Afghanistan in deadly danger.

“It will also undermine the leadership role Britain must play in persuading international partners to live up to their responsibilities,’’ he said.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood was also vocal in his criticism of the scheme, calling it woefully inadequate.

He told the Daily Mirror: “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.’’

The government said the new scheme was in addition to the 5,000 Afghans already expected to move to Britain under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which is designed to offer local allies such as interpreters’ priority relocation.

Government figures showed 2,000 have already arrived under the ARAP programme.

Since Saturday, officials said 520 British nationals, diplomats and former Afghan staff have left Afghanistan on British military flights.

A flight carrying evacuated British nationals and Afghans landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence said the first flight of British nationals and embassy staff arrived at the base on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, claims from the Taliban that it would respect human rights and uphold the rights of women and girls within the framework of Sharia law have so far been treated with skepticism.

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