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Up to 20,000 Afghans to be resettled in UK 'long term'

AFP/London
Filed on August 18, 2021

(Reuters file)

MPs recalled from holiday to discuss the collapse of the Afghan government.


Britain on Tuesday announced a resettlement scheme for Afghans fleeing the Taliban after their return to power, offering an initial 5,000 places in the first year, rising to up to 20,000 in the long term.

The announcement came on the eve of an extraordinary session of parliament on Wednesday, where MPs recalled from holiday will discuss the collapse of the Afghan government, so soon after the withdrawal of Western forces.

Some 900 British troops have been sent back to the Afghan capital to help repatriate thousands of UK nationals, including embassy staff, following the Taliban's return.

London said priority would be given to those most at risk, including Afghan women, children and others forced to flee or facing threats and persecution, offering them a chance to remain in Britain indefinitely.

"This resettlement scheme will be kept under further review for future years, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long term," the Home Office said in a statement.

The scheme is modelled on that which resettled 20,000 refugees from the Syria conflict from 2014 to this year.

Britain was one of the United States' staunchest allies in president George W. Bush's "war on terror", launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

In the restive southern Afghan province of Helmand, Britain had 9,500 personnel and 137 bases alone. And its involvement came at a cost, with more than 450 troops killed.

But senior politicians and military top brass have condemned the peace deal brokered by US former president Donald Trump that led to the withdrawal of US-led forces, and gave the Taliban the opportunity to return, virtually unopposed.

The government said it was working with foreign allies, including in the "Five Eyes" intelligence partnership with the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to identify those most at risk, even as Taliban leaders promised an amnesty and vowed not to take revenge.





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