UK to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees over 'long term', prioritise minorities
The United Kingdom will take in as many as 20,000 Afghan refugees over a 'long term' period, the Boris Johnson government announced on Tuesday indicating the new resettlement programme. The scheme includes providing refuge to 5,000 stranded Afghans in the first year alone, UK home secretary Priti Patel told BBC News. The development comes days after the Taliban's meteoric rise to power in Afghanistan.
As the insurgents solidify control over the state apparatus, fear of conservative retribution has fueled a mass exodus of desperate and panicked residents who now flee the country apprehending the Taliban regime. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), nearly 400,000 people were forced to leave their homes behind since the beginning of this year, joining 2.9 million Afghans already internally displaced across the country at the end of 2020.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years," said UK prime minister Boris Johnson. "Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help."
It is The Guardian that reports that women, children, and religious minorities will be prioritised in the Boris Johnson government's refugee resettlement scheme for stranded Afghans, adding that up to 20,000 people may resettle in the United Kingdom over a period of five years. However, citing a Whitehall source, the publication noted that most of these 20,000 people are likely to have fled to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan unless the UK can strike an agreement with the Taliban over the resettlement operations at the earliest.
Ahead of launching the new resettlement scheme for Afghans, UK PM Boris Johnson had said that international partners need to come together to help prevent a humanitarian crisis.
Notably, following the US withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, the UK, too, had pulled its remaining troops out of the country. British soldiers are now working amid chaotic scenes in Kabul to help evacuate UK nationals and those Afghan citizens who worked for the British government.