Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy

Defence – in the House of Commons on 15th November 2021.

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Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

What steps his Department is taking to maintain the operation of the Afghan relocations and assistance policy.

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I thank my hon. Friend and neighbour for his question. Our Afghan relocations and assistance policy remains open and a dedicated team at the permanent joint headquarters continue to work with all those eligible to ensure their safe passage to the UK. I recently visited the region to identify what more we can do to support both third-country and in-country applicants, and we are working with a wide range of allies and partners to explore every possible avenue.

Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his response. I appreciate that much of the information around the Government’s support for those in Afghanistan is sensitive, but can he update the House on whether the Government have made an assessment of how many people still in Afghanistan qualify for the scheme and what steps the Government are taking to ensure that they are able to leave safely?

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

We estimate that about 800 principals plus their families might be eligible to come to the UK through the ARAP route. However, we should be clear that this is a very difficult process that relies entirely at the moment on the co-operation of third countries, and that regulates flow. We are doing our best to get people here in the biggest numbers that we possibly can, but other countries in the region get a vote. That is why all the ministerial team and our colleagues in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office continue to work hard to maintain those relationships and maintain those permissions.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Shadow Vice Chamberlain of HM Household (Whip)

Afghan interpreters who previously settled in Newport East are still waiting to be reunited with their families who have been stuck in bridging hotels waiting for biometric resident permits for some months now. What are Defence Ministers doing to impress upon Home Office Ministers the need to sort this out?

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I meet Home Office Ministers regularly, and so does my hon. Friend the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, who is leading on the reception of ARAP personnel within the UK. If the hon. Lady would like to write to him with the detail of the people she is representing, we will make sure that that is passed to Home Office Ministers.