Only 20,000 Afghans to be resettled in next 5 years with many more left in Afghanistan
LONDON (AA) – The British government on Wednesday granted those Afghans who worked for or assisted its military forces during its 20-year war in Afghanistan permanent residence in the UK.
Those eligible Afghans arriving in the UK through various resettlement routes would receive immediate leave to remain which would grant them permanent residency in the UK without any end date to their stay. The scheme will apply to those who worked with the British government and military.
“We owe an immense debt to those who worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan and I am determined that we give them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
“I know this will be an incredibly daunting time, but I hope they will take heart from the wave of support and generosity already expressed by the British public,” Johnson added.
Under the government’s Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), people who have already relocated to the UK will be able to convert their temporary residency to a permanent one with no added cost and will have the option to apply for UK citizenship in the near future.
Afghan asylum seekers arriving in the UK are also being offered COVID-19 vaccines and more than 700 arrivals under the ARAP scheme have concluded their quarantine period and received their first vaccine.
The government is also working with more than 100 councils across the country to meet the demand for housing and has confirmed that over 2,000 places are ready to be settled. Funding has also been set aside for Afghans looking to enter schools and universities with up to 300 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to be offered.
“As part of the New Plan for Immigration, I committed to providing refugees who make their home here the ability to rebuild their lives in the UK with essential support to integrate into the community, learn English, and become self-sufficient,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
“By providing immediate indefinite leave to remain we are ensuring that those who have fled their homes have every opportunity to look to the future with stability and security and make a success of their new life in the UK,” Patel added.
The scheme, however, will only welcome 20,000 Afghans over a period of five years and thousands of Afghans, many of whom are British nationals, have been left stranded in Afghanistan by UK forces after their hasty retreat from the country over the weekend.
Also, a government minister said a decision is yet to be made on whether Afghans who do not make up the 20,000 relocating to the UK under the ARAP scheme will be allowed permanent residency.