Paris/ London, January 12, 2020
by Mark Porter
Some of the first people to be accepted under the UK’s much-trumpeted Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) are already living in the UK, it turns out. The UK’s Home Office (interior ministry) has come under fresh fire for failing to prioritise the most vulnerable Afghans, many of them journalists.
The scheme to resettle 20,000 people over four years was first announced in August 2021. The aim was claimed to be to provide sanctuary to “vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk” after the Taliban swarmed in to fill the vacuum left by the chaotic departure of the Western allies.
Immigration minister Victoria Atkins told the House of Commons the scheme had now opened, with “the first to be resettled … already evacuated and in the UK“, the London Guardian reported.
Yvette Cooper, shadow Home Secretary, questioned why UK nationals were being counted in a scheme meant for Afghans. “She [Atkins] will know there is huge concern about rumours that government departments have been trading people and trying to shunt people around in order to reduce the number who will be supported, and she will understand how deeply shameful that would be if it were true,” she said.
Chaotic scenes in the House of Parliament suggested official mendacity and incompetence on the grand scale.
in August 2021, Pen Farthing, a former British marine officer, used strong-arm tactics and cyber-bullying to ensure UK armed forces helped escort hundreds of dogs and cats to a cargo plane while Afghan journalists, fixers, and interpreters were left fleeing for their lives. Public reaction was often disgust.
The AEJ is preparing a full report on the situation of the Afghan journalists, including more from our colleagues in Kabul and over 500 trapped journalists in Kabul the AEJ is trying to bring to safety.
♦ 12/01/2022 Washington Post Portraits of fear and loss (lives of four women in Afghanistan)
♦ 17/12/2021 France 24: Life inside the Taliban emirate
♦ 22/ 09/ 2021 Faisel Bardot in Kabul – In the thick of it