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UK must urgently expand 'grossly flawed and utterly inadequate' relocation scheme for Afghanistan

Escalating disaster in Afghanistan is exposing the lie behind the Home Office’s Nationality and Borders Bill to provide protection

Many Afghan refugees have no offer of a safe route to reach the UK, whatever connection they have to the UK

‘The clock is ticking. The iceberg has been hit, and the government urgently need to send lifeboats’ – Sacha Deshmukh

Amnesty International has said the UK Government must immediately move to expand its ‘grossly flawed and utterly inadequate’ relocation scheme to ensure many more people in Afghanistan can get to safety.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said:

“The UK Government must urgently expand and recast its grossly flawed and utterly inadequate relocation scheme to ensure many more people can get to a place of safety before it’s too late.

“Thousands of Afghans at serious risk of Taliban reprisals - from academics and journalists to activists and women human rights defenders – are in danger of being abandoned to a deeply uncertain future. 

“The chaos unfolding in Kabul means there are a matter of hours, not days, in which the UK could potentially save lives.

“The current UK relocation scheme was ​revised with much fanfare in April this year to provide protection for more Afghans working for the UK Government but even that revision continues to exclude many of these employees and their family members.

“One particular catch 22 for people potentially eligible is that ​many of them are required to show an imminent threat to their life but escaping the country to avoid that threat immediately makes them ineligible.

“If the person who was employed by the UK is killed or missing, then their families, who would also have been allowed to relocate immediately fall outside the ​purview of the scheme.

"The current scheme needs to be immediately expanded to address these and other inadequacies.

There must be a formal plan to stop returns to Afghanistan and ensure that the protection needs of all Afghans ​in the UK ​are recognised and met."

​“There must also be action to ensure that people with family in the UK are able to be reunited in safety here. That means issuing visas and evacuations​ - from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

"The Government must finally recognise that many refugees have no alternative to treacherous journeys to reach places of safety - including the UK. Nobody escaping this tragedy - or indeed persecution elsewhere - must be penalised simply because they have been forced to travel without a visa.

“The clock is ticking. The iceberg has been hit, and the government urgently need to send lifeboats.”

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