UK to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees following Taliban takeover of the country 3 months ago

UK to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees following Taliban takeover of the country

Women, children and religious minorities will be prioritised, but critics say the plans don't go far enough.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce that the UK will take in 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan over the next five years under a new resettlement plan aimed to help those most at risk following the Taliban takeover of the country.

Advertisement

Johnson acknowledged that the UK owes a "debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years." Those that have helped the western campaign in Afghanistan over the last two decades are now find themselves most at risk from the Taliban.

The Prime Minister added: "I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK. The best solution for everyone is an Afghanistan that works for all Afghans.

"That means the international community coming together to set firm, political conditions for the country’s future governance. And it means focusing our efforts on increasing the resilience of the wider region to prevent a humanitarian emergency."

But the plans have been criticised as unambitious, with only 5,000 Afghans set to arrive in the country by the end of 2021.

The scheme is similar in size to the one that has been in place for Syrian refugees since 2014, under which 20,000 people have been resettled in the UK. This is despite the fact that the population of Afghanistan is double that of Syria, and the UK has been one of the active members of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Lib Dems described the promise to help 20,000 Afghans as "vague", with the party's foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran saying that 20,000 "should be the starting point of the scheme, not the target."

Advertisement

Meanwhile Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour's shadow home secretary, said: "Britain has an obligation to people in Afghanistan - it is right we have a scheme in place to help them rebuild their lives here.

"The government’s incompetence in failing to plan for this has left huge numbers of Afghans’ lives in danger today, especially those who served alongside the British and women and girls. After such catastrophic errors, the Government must step up with a more urgent plan of action."

He added that the proposal "does not meet the scale of the challenge," and undermines the "leadership role Britain must play in persuading international partners to live up to their responsibilities."

Advertisement

But, according to the Guardian, a Whitehall source said: "We don’t want to do this on the basis of whoever can get themselves to Kabul airport over the course of the next week.

"In practice that means most people will be coming via third countries."

Related links:

Photos show 640 Afghans crammed into fleeing US Air Force plane

Advertisement

Taliban host first press conference in Kabul after Afghanistan takeover

Malala calls on countries to open borders to Afghan refugees