Our ‘Warm Welcome’ for Afghan refugees

Our government says its intention is to offer Afghan refugees a warm welcome to our country, unless, they come via irregular routes, when they will be criminalised and penalised.

When Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban many refugees made it onto planes bound for Britain, but, many many more people were left behind.  There are women’s rights campaigners and civil society activists who are in immediate danger.

This seems to be a hopeless situation, but there are things that we can do.  We firstly need to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill.  The government say they want to offer a warm welcome for the Afghans, unless of course, they come here irregularly when they will be criminalised and penalised.  This is creating a two-tier system that will only delay people.  The government say it wants to stop smugglers, but it is believed the Bill will in fact empower them, they will put people in more danger by sending them to even more distant ports around the UK.

Secondly we need to create safe routes, so people don’t have to put their lives at further risk in order to seek sanctuary, claiming asylum is not illegal.  There are no humanitarian visas, and the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme isn’t even open yet.  There are 250 female judges who are fearing for their lives, but even if they could get onto one of the small number of international flights now operating from Kabul airport, they don’t have visas. we should act now in providing the paperwork to get them out.

We need to be more ambitious and realistic in the scale of refugee resettlement.  The Afghan citizen’s resettlement scheme will only save 5,000 people this year.  We should be taking at least 100.000 people in the next five years and NATO countries should take a million refugees.  After all, it is these countries that have made the situation in Afghanistan even worse.

If we aren’t proactive now Afghan refugees will still come through irregular routes.  The UK will say it is France’s problem, and France will say it’s Italy’s problem.  Unfortunately this mentality doesn’t work !

There are things that the government could do straight away to improve the lives of the Afghans in the UK.  There are 3,000 Afghans going through the asylum process right at this moment, whom the Home Office is keeping in limbo.  This government should be doing the compassionate thing and granting Afghan asylum seekers refugee status now.

There are approximately 6.000 Afghans evacuated from Kabul, most are traumatised, and the Home Office have ‘dumped’ them in hotels.  What chance do these people have of trying to rebuild their lives in the community?

The government says it is doing what voters want by pushing the Nationality and Borders Bill through Parliament, but the public has shown its support for Afghan refugees through many donations, volunteer work and may other acts of compassion.