Afghanistan

Boris Johnson To Unveil Resettlement Scheme For Vulnerable Afghans

The Home Office has also announced that restrictions have been eased on the relocation scheme for Afghans who supported UK forces.

The Prime Minister is to unveil a "bespoke" resettlement scheme for vulnerable Afghans as efforts to get British nationals and other support staff back to the UK continue.

No 10 said Boris Johnson would give more information about the refugee scheme in the coming days, with the policy anticipated to be focused on helping women and girls.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced 200 extra military personnel were being sent to the capital Kabul to help evacuate British nationals and selected Afghans, as well as help secure the city's airport.

The decision to deploy additional troops followed chaotic scenes at Kabul airport that left seven people dead, including some who fell from a departing US military transport jet.

According to the Telegraph, the resettlement scheme could be similar to that used to take in Syrian refugees in 2015, which saw women with children, people with serious medical conditions and survivors of torture prioritised.

The paper said the Government had yet to determine how many Afghan refugees could benefit from a similar initiative, but the Syrian programme enabled 20,000 to be resettled over six years.

In addition to the pending refugee programme, the Home Office also announced restrictions on the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) - the programme to resettle Afghan nationals who have supported British efforts in the central Asian country - have been eased.

Watch: Civilians cling onto a US aircraft leaving Kabul airport.

The department has removed the requirement for applications to be made in Afghanistan, allowing those who are able to flee the Taliban-occupied area to do so without compromising their eligibility to settle in the UK.

With Afghan interpreters hiding in basements out of fear of being killed by the Taliban, retired British Army officer Major General Charlie Herbert told BBC Newsnight that efforts to rescue those who had supported UK troops should be a priority.

"If we can salvage some dignity from this humiliation, it would be to get those people out of Kabul as quickly as we can."

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The UK team in Afghanistan is working around the clock in incredibly difficult circumstances to help British nationals and as many others as we can get to safety as soon as possible.

"At the same time, we are bringing together the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis emerging in Afghanistan – it's in everyone's interest not to let Afghanistan fail.

"That means providing whatever support we can to the Afghan people who have worked so hard to make the country a better place over the last twenty years and who are now in need of our help."

On Monday evening, US President Joe Biden said he stood "squarely behind" the decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, vowing not to let the war enter a "third decade".

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on our website.

Cover image: Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Picture: Number 10/Flickr).