Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday Britain owed “an enormous debt” to Afghans working with NATO forces when he announced “vital support” for those settling in the UK.
But his government has come under fire after thousands of Afghans who have aided NATO and who qualify to move to Britain under the Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) are allegedly stranded in Afghanistan, where they are at the mercy of the grace of the Taliban.
More than 8,000 have made it and the government announced on Wednesday that they will be given immediate indefinite leave and £15 million will be provided for additional school places and to support access to health services.
“We owe a huge debt to those who have worked with the armed forces in Afghanistan and I am committed to giving them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK,” Johnson said. the so-called “Operation”. Warm Welcome” measures.
“I know this will be an incredibly discouraging time, but I hope they take heart from the wave of support and generosity already expressed by the British public.”
The government said the measures will “give Afghans the security and stability to rebuild their lives with unrestricted rights to work and the opportunity to apply for UK citizenship in the future.”
But current and former officials have condemned the government, suggesting many more could have been saved.
The Observer on Sunday quoted a whistleblower as saying that thousands of emails from lawmakers and charities to the State Department highlighting specific Afghans at risk from the Taliban takeover went unopened.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has been criticized for not immediately leaving a beach vacation when the Taliban took control.
An unnamed minister also told the Sunday Times that “I suspect we could have taken out 800-1,000 more people”.
In addition to Arap, Britain also has a resettlement plan for everyday Afghans fleeing their homeland, with about 5,000 expected this year alone and 20,000 in total.
Resettlement Secretary Victoria Atkins told Sky News on Wednesday that it has not yet been decided whether those arriving under this scheme will be given indefinite leave to stay.
Raab faces a tough hearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, when he will be grilled by MPs over the chaotic withdrawal.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, announced the evidence session, saying that “the past two weeks have been tough for many of us: anger, shame, even disbelief”.
“We never thought we would see the day when NATO forces, led by the US, would turn their backs on the people of Afghanistan.
“How will we deal with the Taliban? How will Afghanistan shape our regional strategy? How will the government hold the Taliban accountable for human rights violations?
“These questions, and so many others, will be put to the Secretary of State.”
Atkins said the government would use “every lever at our disposal … to ensure that the Taliban adhere to” a UN Security Council resolution calling on them to allow safe passage to those who want to leave. .
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)