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Afghanistan: Sikhs

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 28th April 2020.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the provision of (a) safe passage and (b) asylum for members of the Sikh community fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

We strongly condemn the attack on a Sikh Gurdwara in Kabul on 25 March. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia with responsibility for human rights and Her Majesty's Ambassador to Kabul have both condemned the attack. The UK continues to urge the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the rights of all ethnic and religious groups are protected, in line with the Afghan constitution.

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK does not consider asylum claims lodged outside UK territory and does not consider it appropriate to do so. Those who need international protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach - that is the fastest route to safety.

The UK's refugee resettlement schemes do offer a route for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognised refugees in need of protection, who have fled their country of origin. Through these schemes, the UK prioritises the most vulnerable refugees regardless of race, religion or ethnicity and we do not discriminate in favour of, or against, any group. We work closely with UNHCR, which has well-established procedures and criteria for identifying refugees they consider to be suitable for resettlement, taking into account their protection needs. Apart from the criteria we set for each scheme, we do not seek to influence which cases are referred to us by UNHCR.

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