Britain plans to welcome thousands of Afghans

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Britain plans to relocate 5,000 people as part of an Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, designed to help present and past employees of the UK government, reports Asian Lite News

Britain on Tuesday announced plans to welcome up to 5,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban during the first year of a new resettlement programme that will prioritise women, girls and religious and other minorities.

Foreign powers are assessing how to respond after Islamist Taliban insurgents rapidly seized control in Afghanistan, with many fearing a swift unravelling of women’s rights, despite reassurances to the contrary.

Britain already plans to relocate 5,000 people as part of an Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, designed to help present and past employees of the UK government, and on Tuesday announced plans to go further with a new scheme.

“I want to ensure that as a nation we do everything possible to provide support to the most vulnerable fleeing Afghanistan so they can start a new life in safety in the UK,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will save lives.”

The Conservative government has faced pressure from opposition parties and charities to set out the specifics of how it will help Afghans.

In the long term, the programme aims to assist up to 20,000 people, Patel’s ministry said.

In an article published by Patel in The Telegraph, she called on other nations to help take in Afghan refugees as well.

“The UK is also doing all it can to encourage other countries to help. Not only do we want to lead by example, we cannot do this alone,” she wrote.

As the situation rapidly changed over the last few days, it has been difficult to evacuate people stuck in other parts of Afghanistan where there is no access to an airport or a third country.

“The complex picture on the ground means there will be significant challenges delivering the scheme, but the government is working at speed to address these obstacles,” the Home Office said in a statement.

Earlier, Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had said that Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan was a “failure of the international community”.

“All of us know that Afghanistan is not finished. It’s an unfinished problem for the world and the world needs to help it,” he told BBC television.

The former British Army officer last week said US President Joe Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had secured a “rotten deal” with the Islamist militants that allowed their return.

He maintained the 20-year intervention by US-led forces in Afghanistan “wasn’t a waste, it wasn’t for nothing” but accused Western powers of being politically short-sighted.

“If it’s a failure, it’s a failure of the international community to not realise that you don’t fix things overnight,” he said.

“I’m afraid when you deal with a country like Afghanistan, that is 1,000 years of history effectively and civil war, you manage its problems and you might have to manage it for 100 years.

“It’s not something that you just rock in, rock out and expect something to be fixed.”

US former national security adviser HR McMaster meanwhile slammed his country’s failure to realise the Taliban would swiftly take control, calling it “wilful ignorance”.

The retired army lieutenant general told Times Radio it was “clear that this kind of collapse was going to happen”, after the deal brokered by Trump, who sacked him in 2018.

The deal weakened the Afghan government and security forces and strengthened the Taliban, he said, adding: “We stood idly by and we turned a blind eye. This was utterly predictable.”

Britain last month withdrew the majority of its 750 remaining troops in Afghanistan, but last week announced that 600 soldiers would return to help with repatriation.

Wallace told Sky News 370 embassy staff and British citizens were flown out on Saturday and Sunday, with 782 Afghans scheduled to leave in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Officials are aiming to evacuate 1,200 to 1,500 people from Afghanistan a day. The first flight arrived back at a British air force base on Sunday night, his department said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain would help some 3,000 nationals to leave but questions are being asked why he did not do more to oppose Washington’s withdrawal.

The Times newspaper called the rapid pull-out “unforced and unnecessary” and said it was becoming “the greatest disaster in American foreign policy for almost 50 years”.

The head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat, likened it to the Suez crisis of 1956, which laid bare the limits of Britain’s global influence.

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