UK Home Office Delays Jeopardize Afghan Families’ Safety

UK Home Office Delays Jeopardize Afghan Families' Safety

London (Parliament News) – UK Home Office delays in bringing Afghan families who supported UK forces to safety risk their return to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan or to unsafe conditions in Pakistan.

Afghan households who supported UK forces and then escaped to neighbouring Pakistan are in danger of being expelled back to the Taliban due to the Home Office waits to bring them to the UK.

How are Home Office delays risking lives?

According to the Guardian, In the disorderly evacuation period in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in August 2021 some family members suitable for resettlement in the UK became isolated from the rest of their families. Some boarded flights while others were incapable of due to crushes at the airport and instead fled over the boundary to Pakistan. Since then, many separate families have only been able to swap calls and messages with each other across continents, with no indication of the UK government announcing a promised family reunion scheme.

Why are Afghan families stranded in Pakistan?

The Foreign Office has declared against all travel to Pakistan in a recently updated warning stating that no travel to the country can be “guaranteed safe”. On 11 February immigration minister Tom Pursglove commented in a letter that the Home Office was dedicated to establishing a route for eligible separated Afghan families.

“We hope to receive referrals in the first half of 2024,” he stated in response to a letter to the MP David Johnston, who was interceding on behalf of his constituent Muhammad Khan, 30, an Afghan national who helped British personnel in Afghanistan and boarded an evacuation flight.

However, nothing has yet been reported and the situation has become critical. Deportations of Afghans who escaped to Pakistan are due to restart on Monday. A previous wave of these exiles resulted in about 400,000 Afghans in Pakistan being returned, either forcibly or willingly, to Afghanistan.

Khan and his 26-year-old wife, who is living in leased accommodation in Peshawar with the couple’s young children – a daughter of three and a son of four – are scared about what may happen next week. When the evacuation from Kabul began, the couple’s daughter was just a few months old and their son was 18 months old, so they decided the danger at the airport was too great. Khan’s wife and children ran over the border to Pakistan and hoped for a quick family reunion in the UK. Almost three years later they are still waiting.

Khan and his family are qualified for resettlement in the UK under the government’s ACRS Pathway 1 scheme, which is for helpless people and those who assisted UK actions in Afghanistan before the Taliban took power in August 2021. It is not known how many independent families are in the same hopeless situation, but Khan says he knows of others.

“Sometimes I feel that, rather than saving lives, the Home Office wants to split up families and put them in danger,” he said. His wife added: “I’m questioning the Home Office to take me out of this situation but they haven’t done anything. I’m feeling hopeless.”

Dr Hari Reed, from the charity Asylum Welcome, stated: “It is extremely concerning that the situation for these families, many of whom have escaped to Pakistan, is becoming increasingly dangerous. The Afghans we work with feel helpless and let down by the government.” 

A Home Office spokesperson stated: “The government continues to work with partners in the region to evacuate eligible people and is dedicated to bringing more Afghans to the UK in the long term. We are committed to selecting a route to allow eligible individuals to refer one spouse or partner and dependent children to enter them in the UK. We anticipate to see the first referrals in the first half of 2024.”

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.