On Friday, UK ministers told the Guardian that their Afghan resettlement scheme was fully implemented. Then just hours later, they backtracked.
Here is a list of the parliamentarians who have either called on the government to reveal the scheme – and/or offered crucial support and understanding for those in Britain who may never have an opportunity to return home
Four members of the parliamentary group on Afghanistan are deeply concerned
Swaleh Sanandaji, MP for Nangarhar – Swaleh Sanandaji said in a statement released last Wednesday that the government has run out of excuses for maintaining restrictions on the migration of Afghans abroad. “The UK government has defended, in part, its restrictive migration policy on Afghans by claiming that hundreds of Afghans are now resettled in the UK as refugees. This figure of 280 Afghans is not accurate; it is only for Afghans with ‘compassionate’ motives and is not ‘official’,” said Sanandaji. “However, now the UNHCR has admitted that the actual number of Afghan refugees resettled is just 20% of the figure, while the rest of Afghanistan is actually in a state of civil war. This is a shocking admission of a still ‘unfounded’ policy that is now unreflective and indefensible and is deadly for thousands of people.”
David Nuttall, MP for Keighley
David Nuttall said: “When, in March, the European Union agreed a high-level humanitarian ceasefire, British ministers insisted that it could not work as it would undermine the results of the internal Afghan conflict. Then, in June, the EU agreed that almost all of the 15 million displaced in Afghanistan were economic refugees and that Afghan returnees should be prioritised. So it is appalling that Afghan refugees who fall outside the EU’s refugee criteria are now again completely ignored. The government can no longer claim that Afghanistan is safe – nor that it is uneconomic to allow them to resettle outside the UK. Rather, as communities in east and south London demonstrate, Afghanistan’s dire situation is actually being accepted as a reality.”
Javid Ahmed Khan, MP for Birmingham Erdington
Javid Ahmed Khan said: “This is incredibly disappointing news to receive. Yet again, the government has shown an astonishing lack of compassion by leaving a growing and vulnerable minority from Afghanistan to fend for themselves, unaware of the safety measures that exist and determined to continue living in the UK.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Afghan women, men and children who have seen family killed, friends and neighbours maimed and suffering. This development will have a detrimental effect on both our foreign policy and our human rights record.”
Taqia Malik, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth
“I am shocked by the apparent revision of the official figures on the number of Afghan refugees resettled in the UK. More than three years after the then home secretary claimed to have resettled thousands of Afghans from their homes, the government has still only resettled just under 100. The foreign secretary and home secretary have missed an enormous opportunity to help many people with desperate needs get on with their lives in safe, stable countries.”
Marshall Richards, Labour MP for east London
“The UN High Commissioner for Refugees told parliament in February that ‘less than 20% of the Afghan refugee population has sought to return home’, and that a substantial number has no home to return to. This gives the lie to the claim made by Government ministers that Afghan asylum seekers are safe, safe to return and now able to resettle in the UK.
“We should not deny people their rights but we need to know what is happening in the country that made a home for me and other British families. I only feel that my liberties have been curtailed by the people in power. I believe that those in authority should be very brave and should also be able to come to terms with the reality that the home secretary keeps claiming that most Afghans are not refugees.”
• This article was amended on 18 October 2017. An earlier version said that Parliamentarian Carroll Bridge made the statement in parliament on 17 October. This has been corrected to clarify that she said the statement in the Commons on 7 October.