I am writing this to all of you who have contacted me for help because your loved ones are at risk in Afghanistan.
The terrorist bombing at Kabul international airport on Thursday was an appalling and heinous act of violence. Heartbreakingly, I have received information that family members of a Lewisham East constituent were killed in the blast. I was deeply grieved to learn this awful news, and if any other constituents need help identifying missing family members, please let me know and I will do what I can to assist you.
The British media are reporting that the last civilian flight out of Kabul has now left. I am deeply angered by the deplorable failure of this Government to provide safe passage for Afghan refugees and UK nationals who remain in Afghanistan. The Afghan citizens resettlement scheme – which is still not yet open, despite the Government’s assurances – plans to admit just 5,000 refugees per year, which is entirely inadequate to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. I will continue to oppose the Government’s appalling plans to criminalise refugees, including Afghans fleeing the Taliban, who arrive in the UK through unofficial routes.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, has previously advised that some people might be safest trying to reach neighbouring countries, and then seeking to apply for resettlement to the UK from there.
However, the current Government advice is as follows: “The UK evacuation operation has ceased. The potential for terrorist attacks, particularly around the airport, remains very high. British nationals remaining in Afghanistan need to consider carefully the risks should they attempt to leave by any route.”
As your loved ones will all no doubt be aware, the Taliban have a presence around all crossings and are conducting regular checks. As such, people will need to use their own judgment to decide whether to try and reach a land border with a neighbouring country. I will continue to press the Government for clear advice about the safest possible courses of action for those seeking to leave Afghanistan.
As of now I have still only received a very small number of responses to my urgent enquiries to the Government on your cases. I know that the shameful lack of information provided will only be adding to the profound anguish and stress you must all be feeling. Please be assured that I am continuing to press the Government for answers on all your cases, and will be in touch with you as soon as I do receive a response.
If your family members who are currently in Afghanistan are your partners or children, another option over the coming days and weeks may be an application to the Home Office under the family reunion scheme. There is no numbers cap on this scheme, but it can be a long process. If you want to consider your family’s options, I would advise consulting a UK immigration lawyer, who should be able to help you. MPs’ offices do not have the legal expertise to advise on applications to the Home Office; however, I will be happy to support any applications you make as much as I can.
I am keeping you and your loved ones in my thoughts and prayers.
Janet Daby MP
Member of Parliament for Lewisham East