Afghans, including former officials and activists, are calling on the UK government to announce the opening of the new resettlement program.
Many fearful of their safety under the Taliban regime say they are concerned about their lives as they wait to find out if they are eligible to come to the UK.
A man currently hiding in the country told the BBC: “The longer we wait, the more we are in danger.”
Minister Victoria Atkins told MPs that the scheme has not been paused.
The Interior Minister said: “While we appreciate the need to act quickly, it is also important to do it correctly and ensure that any scheme meets the needs of those it has been set up to support.”
Meanwhile, Labor’s shadow foreign minister Lisa Nandy wrote to foreign minister Liz Truss to raise “serious concerns”, saying that months after the official evacuation ended, thousands of people are still stranded in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Ms Truss answers questions from MPs in Parliament, for the first time in her new role.
On 18 August the government announced a new Afghan Citizen Resettlement Program (ACRS) and pledged to relocate 5,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK in the first year and 20,000 in the next few years. It is not open yet.
This scheme is separate from the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) launched on 1 April for the resettlement of people who worked for the UK in Afghanistan.
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The BBC spoke to Afghans who are waiting to find out if they will be eligible for the scheme, one talking about the Taliban raid on his family home and another reporting that family members have been threatened.
All their names have been changed to protect their anonymity.
Mohammed is an alumnus of Chevening’s scholarship program, which is hiding in Afghanistan.
In August, he and other Chevening alumni were told they – and the current scholars – would be a priority for the first wave of evacuations and provided the UK government with their details.
But they are not sure if they will benefit from the new ACRS scheme.
He told the BBC: “The fact that it has taken so long is a concern, but the fact that we don’t even know if we will be considered for the scheme is a bigger concern for us.”
He fears that “the longer we wait, the more we are in danger, the greater the risk we face” and fears that because Chevening scholars and former students previously had priority for evacuation, they have been identified as a group with strong affiliation to the UK.
“It has been over a month since I and many other Chevening alumni like me hide in our homes and fear persecution if we go out.
“We are trying to limit our interactions – we have had very limited interaction with our friends and family.”
He added that if “you go out and talk to someone and they find you, that’s it for you.”
“If I stay here, it’s the end of my life. I can’t go out, I can’t find a job, I can’t work, study, nothing. It’s something to think about later. Right now – it’s our lives that are in danger “.
Other waiting Afghans express fears
Amina she is also a student of Chevening and feels particularly at risk from the Taliban because of her work as a women’s rights activist and because she belongs to the Hazara community, an ethnic group that has been persecuted.
“The thing that makes me really worried is that they know my identity, my background in Afghanistan and my work experience. I am a Chevening student, before being a advocate for women’s rights.”
Amina was contacted by the Ministry of the Interior in the summer – identified as an individual at risk – and provided them with all the details about her and her dependents. But he says he has received no response from the UK government since mid-August.
Ahmad he worked for the security services of the Afghan government and is currently in hiding in Afghanistan. She shared videos with BBC News showing her family home after it was ransacked by the Taliban.
He received an email on August 20 from the Foreign Office asking for his details, but hasn’t heard from them since.
“On the fourth day of the Taliban in Kabul, we left our home and since then we have been hiding in a safe and secret place because my mother was also a counselor in the Afghanistan intelligence department.”
He said his “main fear” is that the Taliban will arrest, torture or kill former government employees.
Ali he also worked for the Afghan government and provided his details to the Interior Ministry a month and a half before leaving Afghanistan, but received no response. After Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban, he fled to a third country, gave his details to the Ministry of Interior and was told it was a priority for the evacuation, but has since had no contact.
Her family is still in Afghanistan and says she was threatened by the Taliban.
“Every single, or every two days, they go to our offices, our homes to visit us or to find one of our family members. Every single day I worry about their lives, their safety.
“I fought against the Taliban for many years, it also concerned ISIS, al-Qaeda which was a great concern for Afghanistan and a great concern for the world.
“The world has not remained a good soldier and a good friend for Afghanistan. Especially for people like me who were on the front lines and who defended the world from terrorism.”
Ms. Nandy said, “A lot of them [Afghans waiting to hear] they are people who helped us, British citizens or dependents of those who helped us, who are now being targeted by the Taliban and in some cases hunted door to door, “he said.
He said that when Parliament was recalled in August, “the only concrete commitment” made by Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Dominic Raab was “to respond to every email from members of parliament raising urgent cases of blocked people. in Afghanistan “.
He said: “They promised to do so by the beginning of September, that promise was not kept, now the Foreign Ministry is writing to parliamentarians asking them not to raise more cases and referring them to a program run by the Ministry of Interior which is it’s not even open yet. ”
She wrote to the new foreign minister to ask her to “deal with the mess she left when she took office”.
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat said: “Those who have been with us now need us to support him, but every day of delay costs lives. We have urgently pressured the government to bring clarity to protect our own. friends and their families “.
In the House of Commons, Conservative MP Caroline Nokes said Afghans arriving in the UK were “desperately” looking for information on how ACRS would work to help family members join them.
And Green Party MP Caroline Lucas told the BBC that when she told the Foreign Office about the British citizens still stranded she was greeted with “deafening silence”.
“Of the seven Britons I have been in contact with who are still in Afghanistan, none of them, according to the responses I have received, were actually registered with the FCDO as a British citizen stuck in Afghanistan,” he said.
“This is despite the fact that I have sent multiple messages to the FCDO and the Home Office, and most British citizens have also asked directly to the public domain FCDO contact points.”
A former ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Nick Kay, said he has “daily” requests from Afghans hiding “in very dangerous situations” asking for help: “At the moment all I can do is direct them to the Ministry website. of the Interior for the ACRS.
“Far up on the screen is the simple statement that ‘this scheme is not yet operational.’
“There is no date for when they can apply. And there is no clarity as to the criteria that will be there for the scheme.
“So I feel really frustrated but, more than that, these Afghans feel incredibly at risk, their lives have been turned upside down, they just want some clarity from the UK government, a clear timetable and some action rather than just them. words. “
- Elizabeth Truss
Patel: I don’t believe the Taliban about women’s rights
- August 18
Afghans who have worked for the UK can stay permanently
- September 1st
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