Joint letter to the Home Secretary
Dear Home Secretary,
We write to you as organisations defending the human rights of migrants and refugees, to urge you to act immediately to offer a generous and compassionate response to the crisis in Afghanistan, reflective of our country’s values and our capabilities.
The fall of Afghanistan to Taliban forces places the rights and lives of millions of people at risk. Reports confirm that widespread killings have already begun, with women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTIQ+ people, journalists and anyone seen as supporting an international organisation or the Afghan Government, throughout the country including Kabul, in immediate danger. This raises an enormous and urgent challenge to the Government’s current approach to refugee protection. History will judge how we respond.
There is now a critical need to swiftly establish sustainable protection solutions for Afghans already living in the UK, their families and loved ones, and for those who will inevitably flee and seek to reach our protection over the coming weeks and months.
To achieve this, the Government must urgently take the following steps:
- Immediately publish new policy guidance that reflects the clear need for international protection for all those at risk.
- Introduce a simplified process to grant immediate protection to any person from Afghanistan with an outstanding protection claim, and to facilitate expedited decisions on fresh or new claims going forwards.
- No Afghan should be evicted from asylum accommodation.
- Address limitations on access to family reunification for people from Afghanistan. Applications must be expedited, and criteria widened to include, for example, parents and siblings of applicants. Normal procedures requiring applications to take place through embassies must similarly be suspended.
- No Afghan nationals should be in immigration detention and all those currently in detention should be released, given the impossibility of safely effectuating removals.
- No Afghan national should be subjected to inadmissibility procedures and face removal to any third country.
- Afghan Locally Employed Staff Relocation schemes must protect people working in all at-risk professions.
A wide-scale international resettlement effort is desperately needed to evacuate people from the country and the surrounding region. However, the horrifying scenes of a deadly scramble for safety at Kabul airport this week demonstrate why a resettlement-only approach to refugee protection, as proposed in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently before Parliament, cannot work.
It is not feasible for refugees to wait for undefined periods of time in unsafe situations in the hope of resettlement in the context of what we have seen. Regulated travel is not a viable option. Many people need to flee urgently and by any means necessary, including by making irregular journeys. These must not be penalised.
We urge the Government more strongly than ever, therefore, to abandon its inadmissibility rules and its decision to delegitimise and criminalise refugee journeys that are not undertaken through regulated resettlement routes. Refugees reaching our shores must have their claims assessed based solely on need and never on their method of flight. It is not too late to reverse these dangerous policies and to move to provide a world-leading, compassionate response to this crisis.
We look forward to hearing from you shortly.
|Satbir Singh, Chief Executive, The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants|
|Dr Mohammad Hotak, Chair, Afghan Council of Great Britain|
|Mariam Baraky, Advocacy Service Manager, Paiwand|
|Duncan McAuley, Chief Executive, Action Foundation|
|Maya Esslemont, Director, After Exploitation|
|Amnesty NE Welcomes|
|Dave Stamp, Senior Caseworker, ASIRT|
|Graham Millar, Executive Director, ASSIST Sheffield|
|Ali McGinley, Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees|
|Andrea Vukovic, Director, Asylum Matters|
|Kat Lorenz, Director, Asylum Support Appeals Project|
|Almas Farzi, Services Director, Asylum Welcome|
|Ewan Roberts, Centre Manager, AsylumLink Merseyside|
|Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile|
|Rebecca Baron, Head of Activism Europe, Ben and Jerry’s|
|Annie Viswanathan, Director, BID|
|Beth Wilson, Director, Bristol Refugee Rights|
|Caroline Gregory, Volunteer, Calais Action|
|Loraine Masiya Mponela, Chair, CARAG|
|Clare Moseley, Founder, Care4Calais|
|Jamie Fookes, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Children and Families Across Borders|
|Tess Berry-Hart, Director, Citizens of the World Choir CIC|
|Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary UK|
|Eleanor Brown, Managing Director, Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers|
|Jackie Capitani, Core Services Manager, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre|
|James Wilson, Acting Director, Detention Action|
|Ellen Waters, Director of Development, Doctors of the World UK|
|Dale Kitching, UK Focal Point, Europe Must Act|
|Steve Crawshaw, Policy and Advocacy Director, Freedom from Torture|
|Dorothy Guerrero, Head of Policy, Global Justice Now|
|Gisela Renolds, Executive Director, Global Link|
|Traci Kirkland, Head of Charity, Govan Community Project|
|Daf Viney, Director of Services, Hackney Migrant Centre|
|Kerry Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Helen Bamber Foundation Group|
|Tahmid Chowdhury, Joint CEO, Here for Good|
|Nick Lowles, CEO, HOPE Not Hate|
|Phil Davis, Director, Hope Projects|
|Roger van Schaick, Chair, Host Nottingham|
|Maddie Harris, Director, Humans for Rights Network|
|Nicole Francis, Chief Executive, ILPA|
|Liz Fekete, Director, Institute of Race Relations|
|Sarah Teather, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service|
|David Altschuler, Chairman, Joint Refugee Action Network|
|Avril Sharp, Policy Officer, Kalayaan|
|Dr Razia Shariff, CEO, Kent Refugee Action Network|
|Jon Beech, Director, Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network|
|Jean Gould, Co-Chair, Lewes Organisation in Support of Refugees and Asylum Seekers|
|Rosario Guimba-Stewart, CEO, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network|
|Luke Cooper, Coordinator, Another Europe Is Possible|
|Marina Bielenky, Mid Gloucestershire Amnesty|
|Maude Casey, Migrant English Project|
|Zrinka Bralo, CEO, Migrants Organise|
|Fizza Qureshi, CEO, Migrants’ Rights Network|
|Bridget Young, Director, NACCOM|
|Ben Hopkinson, Secretary and Trustee, Northumberland County of Sanctuary|
|Amos Schonfield, Director, Our Second Home|
|Magda Fabianczyk, Co-Founder, Polish Migrants Organise for Change|
|Sally Daghlian OBE, CEO, Praxis|
|Nick Harborne, CEO, Reading Refugees Support Group|
|Anna Jones, Co-Founder, RefuAid|
|Enver Solomon, CEO, Refugee Council|
|Catherine Gladwell, CEO, Refugee Education UK|
|Marta Welander, Executive Director, Refugee Rights Europe|
|Jennifer Longford, Chair, Refugee Support Devon|
|Zarlasht Halaimzai, CEO, Refugee Trauma Initiative|
|Ged Allen, Volunteer Director, Refugees & Mentors CIC|
|Lucy Nabijou, Coordinator, Refugees Welcome Haringey|
|Elli Free, Director, Room to Heal|
|Beth Gardiner-Smith, CEO, Safe Passage International|
|Indre Lechtimiakyte, Legal and Migrant Support Manager, Samphire|
|Richard Williams, Chair, Sanctuary on Sea|
|Christopher Desira, Director, Seraphus|
|Kate Smart, CEO, Settled|
|Patrick Marples, Chief Executive, South West London Law Centres|
|Stuart Crosthwaite, Secretary, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group|
|Emily Crowley, Chief Executive, Student Action for Refugees|
|Tim Hopkins, Director, The Equality Network|
|Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE)|
|Susannah Baker, Trustee, The Pickwell Foundation|
|Nicolas Hatton, CEO, the3million|
|Jacob Berkson, Thousand 4 Thousand|
|Alexandra Simmons, Co-Founder, TimePeace|
|Nick Watts, Co-Founder, Together Migrant Children|
|Manny Hothi, Chief Executive, Trust for London|
|Nadine Daniel BEM, Campaigns and Strategy Lead, UK Welcomes Refugees|
|Claudia Holmes, Founder, UKCEN|
|Mel Steel, Director, Voices in Exile|
|Melissa Younger, Finance and Operations Manager, West End Refugee Service|
|Alphone Kabagabo, Director, Women for Refugee Women|