'Govt is using Afghan refugee scheme to cover destruction of asylum system'

19 August 2021, 16:57 | Updated: 19 August 2021, 17:01

Afghanistan: Govt 'using' refugee programme to 'cover destruction' of asylum system, says Refugee Action chief
Afghanistan: Govt 'using' refugee programme to 'cover destruction' of asylum system, says Refugee Action chief. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Tim Dodd

CEO of Refugee Action Tim Naor Hilton told LBC the government will be "using" their announcement of the Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme as "cover to push through their destruction of the UK asylum system".

The government said its new resettlement scheme will welcome up to 5,000 Afghan refugees in its first year and up to 20,000 in the long-term.

Ian Payne asked CEO of Refugee Action, Tim Naor Hilton: "What do you make of the government's resettlement plans?"

"We do welcome the government's announcement... but it absolutely doesn't go far enough," Mr Payne replied.

"First of all you mentioned 5,000 a year for four years, but actually all they've committed to is 5,000 in the first year and the remaining 15,000 could be in the long term, and that could mean many, many years.

"We're arguing for a refugee resettlement programme of 10,000 a year, and an annual commitment, not just to people on this programme, but a global refugee resettlement programme.

"What we're really concerned about is the government will be using these announcements of the Afghan programme as cover to push through their destruction of the UK asylum system.

"The anti-refugee bill that is going through Parliament at the moment promises to punish rather than protect people who try to come here."

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Mr Hilton was referring to the Nationality and Borders Bill.

He continued: "You could easily have Afghan families who are at risk of persecution and gender-based violence but who are not eligible for these programmes, and they would be forced to make difficult and dangerous journeys."

Ian asked: "Do you think we need to distinguish between the migrants who seem to be getting all the flack and coming over on boats on the English Channel with what's happened in Afghanistan, or are they the same?"

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"They're absolutely the same," Mr Hilton replied.

"What we're getting an insight into with all the pictures from Kabul and Afghanistan is the backstory of the people we're seeing later on in boats crossing the channel.

"Right now there are no safe routes, so there are Afghans crossing Europe who fled the Taliban in recent times, some in recent weeks and months... they crossed Europe, they're asking for our protection and safety.

"These are the same people."

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