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YOUNG members of the Afghan diaspora demanded today that ministers act now to open the resettlement scheme and bring their loved ones to Britain before it’s “too late.”
In a rally outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in Whitehall, protesters warned that Tory promises to bring just 5,000 Afghan refugees to Britain this year were “not good enough.”
Protest organiser Azita Ahmadi, 21, whose parents fled to Britain in 1999 after the last Taliban takeover, told the Morning Star that delays to the opening of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme were putting people at risk.
The scheme was announced in August with the aim of bringing 20,000 people to Britain over a period of five years, with 5,000 promised this year.
However the scheme has yet to open four months on.
“They keep saying it’s going to happen soon, but soon is not good enough. We can’t wait five years — they have to do it right now,” Ms Ahmadi said. “The emergency is now.”
She said people in Afghanistan, including members of her family, were facing mass starvation this winter due to the crumbling economy.
“There’s no money, there’s no food, and Afghanistan’s winters are really, really harsh, so not only are people at risk from the Taliban, they are also at risk from starvation or freezing to death.”
The rally was organised by Afghans Beyond Borders, a new campaign group led by young second-generation Afghans in Britain, formed in response to the Taliban takeover in August.
Protester Joshua Newman said he wanted to support the action because his father had been killed in Afghanistan in 2007 while serving in the British army. He told the Morning Star it was “heartbreaking” to see the country back under Taliban control.
“It feels pretty pointless, which is not the way you want to feel when your loved one has died.”
Mr Newman added: “Over the past few months we’ve seen the British government rid itself of responsibility to people, many of whom helped our armed forces when we invaded Afghanistan.”
The rally comes amid shocking revelations of the government’s “chaotic” handling of the evacuation of Afghanistan, revealed by ex-diplomat Raphael Marshall.
On Tuesday, another FCDO civil servant accused officials of being more concerned with the “political fallout” than managing the crisis during the evacuation of Kabul.
The anonymous official told BBC2’s Newsnight that the response was “unforgivable.”
Protesters also called for the government to scrap the Nationality and Borders Bill, which would make it harder for Afghans to seek safety in Britain if they arrive by irregular means.
Ms Ahmadi said the Bill would affect families like hers, who were granted asylum in 1999.
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