The long-awaited Afghan resettlement scheme for people fleeing the Taliban has finally been given a launch date – but campaigner say they are still waiting on “crucial details”.
The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme – first promised shortly after Kabul fell to the insurgents in August – will help 20,000 at-risk Afghans build new lives in the UK, prioritising women, children and people from minority groups. It will launch in January, the government announced on Thursday.
Experts previously criticised ministers over delays in opening the scheme, saying it left vulnerable people to choose between staying in Afghanistan under threat of violence or making the perilous trip to claim asylum on British shores.
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People already evacuated to the UK including journalists and activists will benefit from the scheme first, gaining the right to live and work here through indefinite leave to remain.
Responding to the news, Refugee Action’s Louise Calvey said: “It’s vital for the thousands of Afghans stuck in hotels in the UK and the thousands more in fear of their lives in and around Afghanistan that the resettlement programme starts immediately and is properly funded.
“Yet ministers remain concerningly tight-lipped on crucial details, such as how many of the 20,000 people they’ve pledged to help are already in the UK, and how many additional refugees stuck overseas will be welcomed,” she added.