Over the past few days, we have received a very high volume of campaign and personalised correspondence about the situation in Afghanistan.
Given the numbers of emails we are receiving, we cannot always guarantee a personalised reply. However, for constituents' interest, pasted below is Julia's response to some of the different issues that have been raised.
Thank you very much for your email regarding the extremely distressing events in Afghanistan. I have received a significant volume of correspondence about the very live and ongoing situation in Afghanistan and I am sorry that I have been unable to respond personally to each constituent’s email. Given this, I have addressed below the vast array of different concerns which residents have raised with me.
Earlier this week, I joined a call hosted by the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, to understand the situation in Kabul and hear about the steps the UK and US Governments are taking to ensure the safe evacuation of British nationals and helping Afghan refugees. To aid the safe departure of British nationals and Afghans, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has deployed 900 troops and civilian personnel to provide support to Operation Pitting, and protect and support evacuations. They will provide force protection and logistical support for the relocation of British nationals, as well as interpreters, staff, and their families.
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) has actioned a rapid deployment team of officials specially trained to deal with crisis situations to Kabul. They are working alongside Ambassador Laurie Bristow, who has remained in Kabul throughout, to support those returning safely to the UK.
I welcome the establishing of a new route for Afghan citizens, prioritising women and girls, who have been forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban, to set up home in the UK permanently. The new Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) will resettle thousands of Afghan women and children under one of the most generous resettlement schemes in the UK’s history, and is modelled on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
The ACRS will prioritise women and girls, and religious and other minorities, who are most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban. The Government is working with international partners to develop a system to identify those most at risk and resettle them. The ambition is to welcome up to 5,000 Afghans to the UK under this scheme in the first year, with up to 20,000 in the long-term. The Government is working at speed to address the significant challenges on the ground.
This new route is in line with the Government’s Plan for Immigration, and is separate from, and in addition to, the existing safe and legal routes, including the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), asylum, and the points-based immigration system. ARAP offers any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life priority relocation to the UK. Since 22 June 2021, the Government has resettled over 2,000 former Afghan staff and their families under ARAP.
Some constituents have also raised concerns about the international response to Afghanistan, and I hope to clarify the steps the UK is taking with its partners. The Prime Minister has set out plans to host a meeting of G7 leaders so that the international community can take a unified approach on Afghanistan, in terms of the future of the country and in working to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis.
The UK has also called for emergency NATO and UN Security Council meetings to respond to the latest developments. I welcome that the Government is stressing the importance of any recognition of a new Afghan Government happening on a joint, rather than unilateral, basis. This gives the UK, and other partners, the best possible way to hold the Taliban to account on terrorism, human rights, and protections for women, girls, and minorities. The UK has made it clear that the Taliban must protect and uphold human rights, or it may face sanctions or the suspension of Overseas Development Assistance, if they commit human rights abuses or host terrorist organisations.
I appreciate that this is an extremely distressing, tragic, and live situation, but I hope the information above is helpful in outlining the actions the UK Government is undertaking in response. I would encourage residents to continue checking Government websites, in particular the FCDO, Home Office, and MOD, for all up to date information with regards to the UK’s response. In the meantime, I attach letters sent to me by the Defence, Foreign and Home Secretaries this morning.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me.
With best wishes,