Investigation after The Independent revealed Afghans fleeing to UK to get Taliban to approve documents
The Ministry of Defense opened an investigation after The Independent revealed that the Afghans had been told they could only come to Britain safely after their documents had been cleared by the Taliban.
The government confirmed on Sunday that British officials had told 37 candidates for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Police (Arap) scheme – designed to relocate those who worked directly with British forces – that they would have to provide papers certified by the Afghan government. Taliban-run departments since the militant group took power in August 2021.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) initially denied the practice but has now apologized ‘unreservedly for this error’. Charities said those seeking to flee the country were put at risk and one MP said the request amounted to ‘asking them to sign their own death warrant’.
In an updated statement, a MoD spokesperson said The Independent an examination will now be carried out.
They said: “Last month we were made aware of an error in recent communications with a group of Arap candidates asking them to verify documents with local authorities.
“The 37 applicants affected have been notified of the error and have since responded to the correct instructions and confirmed that they are currently safe.
“The Department of Defense is currently conducting a review to identify any further corrective action needed to strengthen policies and processes.”
In one case, an Afghan interpreter was ordered to have his children’s birth certificates and his marriage certificate “validated” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). He eventually took his marriage certificate to the Taliban’s Justice Ministry to have it checked, but he has been living in hiding, unable to work and awaiting a move ever since.
In another case, a claimant, who had difficulty obtaining copies of his children’s birth certificates, was told: “These documents are an essential requirement and really must be provided. They should be in English and bear the MoFA seal and other necessary departmental stamps.
According to the latest government estimates, there are around 4,600 people eligible for shelter in Britain under the Arap scheme, including dependent family members, who have not yet been relocated to the UK .
Afghans are now the largest nationality of small boat migrants coming to the UK, having overtaken Albanians in recent months. Although official statistics show more than 11,200 people have traveled to Britain under Arap, those figures have recently fallen – with just 743 people resettled in the last quarter of 2022.
This figure, however, is significantly higher than the number of people brought to the UK under the Home Office’s General Afghan Citizen Resettlement (ACRS) scheme, which aims to support at-risk and vulnerable Afghans who uphold the values British in Afghanistan. So far, only 22 Afghans have been settled from abroad under the ACRS program since the Taliban took power in the fall of 2021.
Addressed on the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK takes its obligations to those who have aided the government and served in Afghanistan “extremely seriously” through both programs in place.
The Independent Gt