Afghans Who Worked for British Authorities Can Resettle Permanently Under ‘Operation Warm Welcome’

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Refugees from Afghanistan arrive on a evacuation flight at Heathrow Airport on August 26, 2021 in London, England. Ministry of Defence figures put the number of people evacuated by the UK since August 13 at 9,226, but there are thousands feared to be remaining. Foreign …
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Afghans evacuated from the now Taliban-controlled country who worked for the British authorities will be given indefinite leave to remain under ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.

Rather than the five years’ residency previously offered to the thousands of Afghans set to be brought in under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), the new arrivals will be given “immediate indefinite leave to remain, alongside funding for school places and healthcare”.

Those Afghans under the ARAP scheme already in the country with temporary leave will be allowed to apply free of charge to convert their status into indefinite leave, giving Afghans “the certainty and stability to rebuild their lives with unrestricted rights to work and the option to apply for British citizenship in the future”, a Downing Street press release said on Wednesday.

“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.

“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,” Prime Minister Johnson said as he announced Operation Warm Welcome.

So far, more than 8,000 people eligible for resettlement under ARAP, for Afghans and their families who previously worked for British authorities now deemed at risk from the Taliban, have been flown to the United Kingdom. This figure is higher than the initially projected 5,000 interpreters and others given by the government for this year, with Home Secretary Priti Patel saying two weeks ago that the figure could be as high as 10,000.

The ARAP scheme sits alongside two others being developed by the Conservative government, including the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), a refugee programme that will bring in 20,000 Afghans — the government says mostly women, children, and religious and other minorities — in the coming years. The government aims to resettle 5,000 ACRS Afghans by the end of this year alone.

Number 1o detailed that under Operation Warm Welcome, “the government” will be making available at least £12 million for extra school places, English language support, and specialist teachers for Afghans resettled under ARAP.

There will be additional taxpayer-funded resources for up to 300 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships at British universities. Additional funding being allocated includes £3 million for the NHS and £5 million for councils across Great Britain, including for topping up the costs of renting properties.

Liaison officers will also be made available to assist the migrants with getting a National Insurance (social security) number, accommodation, registering with a General Practitioner, and “more tailored support, as required”.

“£200 million has been committed to meet the cost of the first year of the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, which aims to welcome up to 20,000 Afghans,” the Conservative government said of the separate ACRS scheme for vulnerable civilians being evacuated from the country.

The up to 10,000 estimates for ARAP given by Patel last month and the 20,000 vulnerable civilians being ‘welcomed’ through ACRS will not include those applying legally for asylum by other official means, with the BBC noting that the normal system for asylum claims has a backlog of 70,000.

Late last month, Sky News reported an analysis of Home Office figures that revealed that even before the Taliban takeover of Afghanisation, asylum applications from the country had increased by 53 per cent in the second quarter of this year alone.

The projected figure also does not include any Afghans who arrive illegally in the UK and then claim asylum. While Afghan Resettlement Minister Victoria Atkins said on Wednesday that Afghans who cross the English Channel in small boats into UK territory would not be granted resettlement, it is unlikely that any who make the journey will be returned to the last safe country they travelled through, namely France.

The Telegraph reported on Tuesday that no Channel migrants had been removed from the UK because France and other EU member states refuse to accept them. After years of post-Brexit vote negotiations, successive Conservative governments have failed to agree on such deals with European bloc nations. Direct deportation to Afghanistan is also unlikely, due to the unstable and dangerous nature of the country under the Taliban.

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