Refugees: Afghanistan

Home Office written question – answered on 8th September 2021.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will open for applications; for what reasons that scheme was not prepared and available in advance of the US and UK troop withdrawal from Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The UK’s military evacuation from Afghanistan concluded on 28 August. It was the largest UK military evacuation since the Second World War. Our armed forces and Civil Service staff worked around the clock to evacuate over 15,000 people.

At the same time the Government has worked at pace to develop a new and bespoke resettlement scheme, announced on 18 August, which will relocate 5,000 vulnerable Afghans in its first year, rising to 20,000 long-term – one of the most generous schemes in British history. The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) is in addition to the Afghan Relocations Assistance Policy (ARAP), which has brought around 7,000 Afghans to the UK since launching in April 2021.

Under the ACRS we will work with the international organisations to identify those at risk, as we have done in respect of those who fled the war in Syria - but we will also include Afghans who have contributed to civil society or face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example, because of their role in standing up for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality or religion. We are working at pace to get the ACRS up and running and we will announce further details as soon as possible.

The UK has an enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan and the Government is continuing to work with international partners on a shared plan for the people of Afghanistan which will contribute to long-term regional stability.

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