Thank you very much indeed for contacting me about the current difficult situation in Afghanistan and the potential plight of refugees, including those people who have helped UK and NATO armed forces and western-led humanitarian efforts in the country over the past twenty years.
I am pleased that Woking Borough Council and several other councils in Surrey have offered to play their part in welcoming and resettling those who need our help and I have been working furiously over the past week or two to offer as much help and advice as I can to Woking and Surrey residents who have contacted me about family and friends who are believed to be vulnerable in Afghanistan.
It is extremely encouraging that thousands of Afghan women, children and others most in need will be welcomed to the UK. The new Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), modelled on the successful Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme conducted between 2014-2021, will be one of the most generous resettlement schemes in the history of the UK. Ministers have outlined that the new scheme will resettle 5,000 Afghan nationals in its first year with priority given to women and girls and religious and other minorities, who are most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban. I understand that this resettlement scheme will be kept under further review for future years, with up to a total of 20,000 people being resettled in the long-term.
The new scheme is also separate from, and in addition to, the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which offers any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life priority relocation to the UK. 5,000 former Afghan staff and their family members are expected to be relocated to the UK by the end of this year under ARAP. Moreover, international co-operation will be essential in this process and I welcome the fact that the UK is working with international partners to develop a system to identify those most at risk and resettle them, ensuring that vital help goes to those that need it.
Please find attached a recent communication that I have received from the Ministers and Departments most involved in the situation as it is evolving. I am sure you will join me in paying tribute and giving thanks to all those who have been helping in these important endeavours, and particularly those U.K. citizens, soldiers and embassy staff on the ground in Afghanistan who have been doing so at some risk to themselves in these extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important matter and for sharing your thoughts and concerns.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking