MoD apologizes for asking Afghans to get Taliban approval to come to UK | Afghanistan

The Ministry of Defense has issued an apology after an investigation revealed that Afghan candidates for a resettlement program were told they could only come to the UK if their documents were approved by the Taliban.

The Independent revealed that the error affected applicants for the Afghan Assistance and Relocation Policy (Arap) scheme, which aims to relocate Afghan citizens who were working with the British government or assisting its armed forces in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense decides which applicants – who can apply with their families – are eligible for resettlement in Britain.

Arap differs from the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), which aims to relocate members of the public and vulnerable people to the UK.

Citing emails sent by MoD social workers to Arap applicants, the Independent found that applicants were required to provide birth and marriage certificates in English and stamped with Afghan government departments. The Taliban have ruled Afghanistan since the summer of 2021.

The MoD initially denied the practice, but a MoD spokesperson ultimately said the department had ‘promptly corrected’ the error and was ‘urgently strengthening our internal guidelines and processes to ensure this does not happen again’.

“We apologize unreservedly and continue to work tirelessly to bring eligible individuals to safety,” the spokesperson said.

The Arap case team also sent an apology email to candidates, saying: “We understand that some of you may have received communications from Arap asking you to report to local authorities. or the Department of Foreign Affairs to obtain new documents for your resettlement in the UK.

“If you received one of these messages, it was incorrect and we apologize for any misunderstanding or distress caused by this message.”

An Afghan interpreter learned that his marriage certificate and the birth certificates of his children had to be validated by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He attempted to have his marriage certificate verified with the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice.

The interpreter remains in Afghanistan, awaiting assistance to be transferred to a third country before the UK. He is currently in hiding and unable to work.

The British government has promised to resettle up to 20,000 eligible Afghans – including 5,000 in the first year – but has been criticized for delays in the process.

While 11,212 people were resettled in Britain under Arap, the number of admissions plummeted at the end of 2021, after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

According to Ministry of Interior data, more than 6,200 Afghans were relocated under Arap between July and September 2021. This number fell to 732 in the last quarter of 2021. A year later, only 743 were admitted in the last quarter 2022.

As for ACRS, only 22 Afghans eligible under the program’s second track – designed for vulnerable fleeing refugees referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – were resettled by the end of December.

theguardian Gt

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