It has been one year since the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) was launched, allowing thousands of Afghans to be rescued and brought to the UK under Operation Pitting. Despite this, more than 100 charities and activists are now calling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to facilitate the resettlement of family members of these Afghans.
The government had previously pledged to resettle family members in the UK. However, there is currently no mechanism in place for them to do so. Campaigners have accused the government of abandoning Afghan refugees in danger who were promised the right to reunite with family members in Britain.
The 6,300 Afghans brought to the UK are in a difficult situation, as they have had to leave their families behind in Afghanistan, where they are in grave danger. This has caused immense distress to those affected, as they are uncertain when or even if they will be allowed to reunite with their loved ones.
A letter to Sunak, coordinated by Safe Passage International, has highlighted the plight of these vulnerable family members, including women, girls and those from persecuted religious and minority ethnic communities, who have been forced to hide in Afghanistan, putting their lives at significant risk.
“It’s been 18 months since families were torn apart when Kabul fell,” said Beth Gardiner-Smith, Safe Passage International Chief Executive. “The government has effectively abandoned Afghans, leaving them without a process to reunite with loved ones who are at risk despite repeated promises made.
“Afghans remain one of the top nationalities risking their lives to cross the Channel, but rather than create the safe routes that would allow them to reunite with family, the prime minister prefers to concentrate on new laws to further punish refugees.”