UK asylum applications from Afghanistan tripled over summer during Taliban takeover

UK asylum applications from Afghanistan tripled over summer during Taliban takeover
2 min read
21 December, 2021
Refugee Council said Monday that the number of asylum applications from Afghanistan to the UK tripled from July to September 2021. However, due to a lack of 'safe routes', Afghans may be forced to take dangerous journeys to the UK, they said.
'We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don't act now, we will have a total disaster,' said the UN about the current situation in Afghanistan [Getty]

The number of asylum applications from Afghanistan to the UK tripled between July and September 2021, a British charity said Monday. 

Refugee Council said the number of applications rose from 435 between April to June to over 1,000 between July and September, the same time as the Taliban's lightning offensive across Afghanistan. 

The charity warned that unless "safe routes" were made available for Afghans, thousand will be forced to make dangerous journeys to seek safety in the UK, such as travelling on small boats across the English Channel. 

"Afghans have been left with a heart-breaking choice. Either they stay in a country where they fear for their lives every day or take the gut-wrenching decision to leave and embark on a dangerous journey in an attempt to reach safety," said Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council. 

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The charity slammed the UK government for failing to implement the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), and other humanitarian corridors such as family reunions. 

The ACRS, promised in the wake of the Afghan crisis, offers protection to those who "assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rules of law". 

The UK Home Office said it is "working quickly to establish the details of the [scheme]". 

In the meantime, the criteria required of people applying for the UK's Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) - the government’s initial relocation scheme created to support those who worked directly for the UK Army - has been narrowed. 

"It is critical the Government... help[s] provide the safe routes and support [Afghans] both desperately need and deserve," said Solomon. 

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The UK Home Office claimed it evacuated more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan in the fortnight following the Taliban's takeover on 15 August. A further 3,000 plus individuals have been helped to leave Afghanistan, they say. 

However, a UK Foreign Office whistleblower said that up to 150,000 people from Afghanistan applied for relocation to the UK. Around 5 percent actually received help, he added.  

Afghanistan is on the brink of famine. Its aid-dependent economy has crashed under the insurgent government and millions of people face acute food shortages combined with the threat of continued violence perpetrated by the Taliban. 

British media has already reported on Afghans choosing to take the perilous journey across the Channel rather than wait in limbo for help that may never come.