The Ministry of Defense has apologized after an investigation found Afghan applicants for resettlement schemes were told they could only come to the UK if their documents were approved by the Taliban.

The Independent revealed that the blunder affected applicants to the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Scheme (ARAP), which aims to relocate Afghan nationals who have worked with the UK government or helped the armed forces in Afghanistan. The MoD decides which applicants – who can apply with their family – are eligible for relocation to the UK.

Arap differs from the Afghan Civilian Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), which works to relocate members of the public and vulnerable people to the UK.

Citing emails sent from MOD caseworkers to Arap applicants, independent applicants were required to provide birth and marriage certificates in English and stamps from Afghan government departments. The Taliban has been ruling Afghanistan since the summer of 2021.

The MoD initially denied the practice but an MoD spokesman eventually said the ministry had “quickly rectified” the mistake and was “immediately strengthening our internal guidance and procedures to ensure it does not happen again”.

“We apologize unreservedly and continue to work tirelessly to move eligible individuals to safety,” the spokesperson said.

The Arap case team also sent an apologetic email to applicants, saying: “We understand that some of you may have received communications from Arap telling you to go to local authorities or the Foreign Office to get new documents for your move to the UK.

“If you received one of these messages, it was incorrect and we apologize for any misunderstanding or trouble caused by this message.”

An Afghan translator was told that her marriage certificate and her child’s birth certificate had to be verified by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He tried to get his marriage certificate certified by the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice.

The translator remains in Afghanistan, awaiting help to relocate to a third country before the UK. He is now in hiding and unable to work.

The UK government had promised to resettle up to 20,000 eligible Afghans – including 5,000 in the first year – but has been criticized for delays in the process.

Under Arap, 11,212 people were resettled in the UK, with the number of entrants falling by the end of 2021 after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

According to Home Office figures, more than 6,200 Afghans were relocated under ARAP between July and September 2021. It fell to 732 in the last quarter of 2021. One year, only 743 were enrolled in the last quarter of 2022.

As for ACRS, only 22 Afghans eligible under the scheme’s second pathway — designed for vulnerable fleeing refugees recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — had been resettled by the end of December.


See also  Veterans testify at hearings about U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

By admin