We have been deeply saddened in the past couple weeks by the crisis in Afghanistan. The scenes at Kabul Airport are a reminder that many Afghans fleeing the Taliban don’t get a choice over the way they escape. We welcome the fact the government is thinking about resettlement, but their commitment is over five years and doesn’t go far enough. The events of the last few days show we need to move fast to be effective. That means helping more than 5,000 refugees this year if that’s what it takes to keep vulnerable Afghans safe and help them rebuild their lives with dignity.
Since 2009, there have been 21,613 applications for asylum from people from Afghanistan in the UK. 7,619 of these applicants were declined any form of protection. 2,609 of these applications were from women, and 875 from children. This year alone, 76 applications for asylum have been declined. There are around 3,000 such claims currently outstanding. Thousands of returns to Afghanistan (either through voluntary or enforced removals) have been made during the conflict.
The Nationality & Borders, which will continue through the Commons in the Autumn, will seek to criminalise and discriminate against anyone who comes via irregular routes, even those with compelling reasons to be in the UK. It needs to be amended in light of the situation in Afghanistan, as those fleeing the Taliban will not have access to regular routes. Our community is a generous and welcoming place. Just as we helped Syrians in their hour of need, we can help the female leaders, former interpreters, humanitarians, young men escaping Taliban conscription and others who are seeking safety.
As there are no clear guidelines on how the UN, the UK Government alongside local authorities and frontline organisations will be able to help Afghan nationals who are fleeing the Taliban, Migrants’ Rights Network have joined over 100 organisations in writing to the Home Secretary on the Afghanistan crisis and urged the the Home Secretary to:
- Abandon the ‘resettlement-only’ plans set out in the Nationality and Borders Bill, that would criminalise or deny full refugee status to those who make their own journeys to seek asylum in the UK
- Grant immediate asylum to Afghans already waiting for status in the UK
- Release all Afghan nationals from detention
- Expand the family reunion route so that Afghans can be joined by other members of their family, such as parents and siblings
- Join the international effort to evacuate and resettle Afghan nationals
For more information on how we can support Afghans and other actions click here
We spoke to ITV News on the mental health support for Afghan refugees coming into the UK. We spoke on the need for appropriate mental health provision for Afghan refugees. We need this Gov to scrap the Borders Bill which will only be detrimental to mental health of asylum seekers & refugees coming to the UK. Studies by PTSD UK have shown that an upward of 40% of refugees, and as many as 90% of refugee children, suffer from PTSD; further, approximately 2 in 5 asylum rejections are corrected upon appeal. Which is an extremely worrying figure when considering the increased trauma and distress that a deportation to a ‘safe’ third country will cause a person. It must also be acknowledged that, in many cases, traumatic events are further endured whilst travelling.