The Migration Justice Project at Law Centre NI has welcomed the UK Government’s commitment to providing protection for vulnerable people fleeing Afghanistan, and, as the violence in the country rapidly escalates, we urge the UK to expedite and expand its plans for a resettlement programme.
Liz Griffith of the Migration Justice Project said: “Not only do Afghani workers who have supported British forces need sanctuary, there are many others who urgently need protection. These include women and girls, LGBTQ+ individuals, members of ethnic and religious minorities, human rights defenders and civil society activists.”
Liz continued: “Northern Ireland has built up a wealth of experience over the past five years through its support for the Syrian Resettlement Scheme. We now have a strong base from which we can play our part in offering support to those Afghanis who are desperately fleeing their country.”
The Migration Justice Project also called on the UK government to urgently address the position of Afghanis currently within the UK asylum system.
Peter Lavery, Head of Immigration at the Law Centre, said: “In recent years, the Home Office has refused more than one in two asylum applications from those who have fled Afghanistan. Such refusals should now be reviewed in light of the new threats posed by the Taliban and forcible returns to Afghanistan should be halted.”
“There are people all over the world suffering extreme human rights abuses and for all those who have already secured refugee status in the UK, the refugee family reunion process should be speeded up and the eligibility criteria expanded to ensure that family members can quickly join their loved ones in the UK.”
The ongoing crisis in Afghanistan is a stark reminder of the importance of states being willing to uphold the Refugee Convention 1951 in its fullest sense. The UK is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and current plans in the UK’s Nationality and Borders Bill that will deny refugee protection for people who do not arrive in the UK through “regular” means should be abandoned. The harrowing images of desperate Afghanis falling from airplanes taking off from Kabul Airport highlights that regulated means of travel are simply not available for many people needing to flee persecution.