“The priority must be helping people in Afghanistan to reach safety”
By Mike Adamson, chief executive, British Red Cross
In August, we warmly welcomed the UK government’s announcement of a resettlement programme that aimed to provide safety for Afghans in need of protection.
Since evacuations began, British Red Cross staff and volunteers have supported over 15,300 people arriving from Afghanistan at airports across the UK. We continue to do so.
We have also welcomed nearly 7,000 people from Afghanistan at more than 90 hotels across the UK, and will continue to provide ongoing support.
But we’re aware that the newly arrived people we’re helping need regular, up-to-date information on their next steps.
We are also calling on the UK and devolved governments, local authorities, charities and the private sector to come together and get newly arrived people into proper homes as quickly as possible.
We want to make sure that people who are still living in hotels have access to the support they need.
Many people remain unclear on their immigration status in the UK and what their rights and entitlements will be, including whether they will be able to reunite with family members still in Afghanistan.
The British Red Cross is ready to work with the UK Government and other partners to welcome Afghan more refugees to the UK.
And while we understand the significant challenges of finding enough appropriate accommodation, people cannot stay in hotels for months on end.
Every refugee, including those from Afghanistan, needs a proper home, access to healthcare and education and communities to settle in, where they can go to school and find a job.
More safe routes for people in Afghanistan
The absolute priority must be helping people within Afghanistan to reach safety if they’re in danger, including those with family members in the UK.
We are also calling for more safe routes for people from Afghanistan to find safety in the UK. We’re also calling for clarity around family reunion rights.
Not everyone will be able to access formal resettlement programmes. In desperation, many will leave in any way they can.
THE BRITISH RED CROSS IS READY TO WORK WITH THE UK GOVERNMENT AND OTHER PARTNERS TO WELCOME AFGHAN REFUGEES.
The Home Office must make sure that those who reach the UK in other ways receive the support and protection they need.
This should start with urgently processing the claims of the 3,000 Afghan nationals who are already here, and have been waiting for months, if not years, for a decision.
Chief executive of the British Red Cross
Mike Adamson has been chief executive of the British Red Cross since 2014.
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