UNITED KINGDOM: Amid the Taliban’s lightning conquest of war-torn Afghanistan, the U.K. government has promised to resettle thousands of Afghan refugees in the U.K. after the Taliban seized control of Kabul.
The United Kingdom says it will welcome as many as 20,000 Afghans under a new resettlement programme. 5,000 refugees will be eligible in the first year with priority to women, girls and religious and other minorities, who are at most risk from the Taliban, according to reports in British news outlets.
The scheme aimed at those seen “most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban” will offer a safe and legal route to Britain, the Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain owed a “debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years and many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help,” British media said.
The U.K. parliament on Wednesday is due to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
“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 U.K.,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel while also urging other countries to help.
“Not only do we want to lead by example, we cannot do this alone,” she wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
However, opposition parties have criticised the settlement scheme for not going far enough.
The Taliban have promised the rights of women in Afghanistan will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.
But the home secretary said the group had a history of oppressing women and “that’s not going to change overnight”.
“I genuinely do not think that we should be at all believing the spokespeople or the PR operation that we’re currently seeing,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.