LONDON: As Britain turns its resources to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, more than 4,000 Afghans supporting British troops in August’s evacuation from Kabul are still trapped.
James Heappey, Armed Forces Minister has admitted that more than 1,000 Afghans and their families are still eligible for the UK’s Afghanistan relocation assistance programme.
A prospective ARAP applicant stated to The Independent that he was “fearing his life” and was forced by the UK to stay in Afghanistan.
The 27-year-old said: “We live in fear and hide. Someone must be there to take us out if we want to purchase food. While we try to protect ourself, this won’t continue. We are more equipped than ever. Come and join us. It’s like we’re forgotten.
“I know the UK is most concerned about the war in Ukraine, but it must keep its promises to us. We protect and support you; it’s your turn to help us.”
Sarah Magill, Azadi charity director, said that she has been supporting ARAP applicants and that resources have been severely depleted since the government redeploys ARAP members to invade Ukraine.
Magill said: “There is an urgent need to expand the ARAP taskforce without exhausting resources sent to Ukraine. We ask the government for urgent action before more lives are taken.”
Sources from the Defense Ministry said that the ARAP case handling was “a mess” which left Afghans “worried about their future”.
The source added: “Government communication (situation) is terrible. Afghans in vulnerable – some high risk – will be sent details and paperwork, they don’t even get a hold email. It’s just a stone’s throw away. Silence. Army colleagues are shocked.”
Sources said that the apparent arbitrary nature the plan was, which saw some cases go to trial faster than others, added to the difficulties.
According to the source, it was “almost an arbitrarily arranged process” and “completely opaque”. It’s not right to deal with people’s lives. This is often a life-or-death situation, but there’s no political will.