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Ministers under pressure to expedite processing upwards of 3000 Afghan refugee asylum applications

A member of the Heathrow security team offers a thumbs up to Afghan migrants at Heathrow Airport. Credit: Getty

The British Red Cross has recommended that more than 3,000 Afghan refugees who are awaiting a judgment on whether or not they will be permitted to stay in the UK have their cases expedited.

According to polling commissioned by the charity, voters are generally supportive of a change of Home Office procedures to prioritize asylum seekers from Afghanistan, with 43% in favor and 23% opposed.

Following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, the UK government has pledged to provide asylum to up to 20,000 Afghans in the following years, in addition to the thousands of Afghans who directly assisted the British troops during the 20-year Western engagement.

According to the latest Home Office numbers, there were 3,213 Afghan asylum seekers in the UK before Kabul fell to Islamist insurgents last month. They are awaiting a judgment on whether they will be officially granted refugee status and allowed to resettle. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed had been waiting for over six months.

With 22% disagreeing, little over half of Britons say these Afghans should be permitted to bring family members to join them in the UK. Opinium conducted a poll of 4,000 people on behalf of the Red Cross.

“With more people travelling to the UK in search of safety, we must be ready to provide support now,” said Mike Adamson, the charity's chief executive. That begins with expediting the claims of over 3,000 Afghan nationals who have already arrived in the United States and have been waiting months, if not years, for a decision.

“They should no longer be stuck in limbo, unable to work and struggling to make ends meet on such a meager income. It is the correct thing to do for the UK to uphold its global duties, and the public is behind us.”

Ministers are under pressure to ensure that Afghans who come to the UK under one of the two new schemes – the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy for former interpreters and other UK government employees, and the Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme for civilians who have reason to fear for their lives at home – are given suitable housing as soon as possible, and are given acclimatization support.

To avoid a repeat of the chaotic migratory catastrophe that followed the Syrian civil war, Britain is attempting to persuade other Western governments to set binding numerical objectives for how many Afghan migrants they will admit.


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