Saudi Press

Saudi Arabia and the world
Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

UK minister criticized for misleading claim on Afghan asylum applications

UK minister criticized for misleading claim on Afghan asylum applications

A government minister in the UK has been criticized after wrongly claiming “hundreds of thousands” of people from Afghanistan had applied for asylum in Britain.
James Heappey, minister for the armed forces, made the claim in the House of Commons, while also saying that the majority of Afghans who applied would be ineligible for resettlement in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, and refusing to indicate whether the high-profile case of an Afghan pilot would be positively resolved.

“We have had hundreds of thousands of applications — the vast majority of which have come from people who either served in the Afghan National (Security) Forces, who, whilst their effort was heroic, was never who ARAP was aimed at,” he said, adding the scheme was meant for Afghans who worked in “direct support” of the British Armed Forces.

The Independent, however, suggested that the criteria for resettlement under ARAP was narrower than described, which, according to the UK government, is for “Afghan citizens who worked for or with the UK government in Afghanistan in exposed or meaningful roles.”

The paper said applications were only being approved for people who were directly employed by the British Armed Forces or “those who held a role that materially contributed to a specific British effort in Afghanistan.”

The UK Ministry of Defence told The Independent that the ARAP scheme had received 138,000 applications, of which just 15,420 people had been identified as eligible. Of those, about 12,200 have been relocated to the UK, with the rest remaining in Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan.

Heappey’s comments drew criticism from MP Layla Moran, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats.

“The Conservatives’ handling of the Afghanistan crisis has been catastrophic from the very start,” she told The Independent.

“Now ministers can’t even seem to get the figures right. It’s important that James Heappey corrects the record as soon as possible.

“Getting the facts right is surely the very least that we owe to those brave Afghans who supported our efforts in Afghanistan — and have been so badly let down by the Conservative government.”

Heappey also failed to give any indication whether one Afghan pilot, who flew dozens of missions against the Taliban, was described as a “patriot” by coalition superiors, and who fled to the UK after the fall of Kabul in August 2021, would have his case for asylum approved.

The pilot, whose identity remains a secret for security reasons, has been threatened with deportation to Rwanda in East Africa — a country with which the UK has a deportation agreement — over suggestions that he passed through safe countries, including France, before reaching the UK illegally in a small boat across the English Channel.

The pilot claims he had no choice as there were no safe and legal routes open to him, and that he and many of his former comrades have been “forgotten” by their UK allies. His case has been championed by a number of senior politicians, military figures and media personalities, including the former head of the British Army, Lord Dannatt.

Heappey said that the MoD was looking at “whether or not there are any special circumstances under which the (pilot’s) application could be approved,” but added: “In principle, as a member of the Afghan National Security Forces, rather than somebody who worked alongside the British Armed Forces, (he) would not automatically be in scope (of the ARAP scheme).”

An MoD spokesperson told The Independent: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those interpreters and other staff eligible under the ARAP scheme who worked for, or with, UK forces in Afghanistan. That’s why we have committed to relocating all eligible Afghans and their families to the UK under the ARAP scheme — a commitment we will honor.

“Our absolute priority is supporting the movement of eligible people out of Afghanistan and to date, we have relocated over 12,200 individuals to the UK under ARAP.”
Newsletter

Related Articles

Saudi Press
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
China Criticizes US for Vetoing UN Ceasefire Resolution in Gaza
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
The U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, instead proposing its own six-week ceasefire plan contingent upon the release of all hostages held by Hamas
Prince William Urges End to Gaza Conflict
Saudi Arabia ranks first in UN index for e-government services in MENA
Israel has gone ‘beyond self-defence’ in Gaza, says Labour’s Streeting
EU Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza Conflict
Israel Records 20% Drop In GDP, War In Gaza Is The Reason
Saudi Arabia's FDI Inflows Grow with New International Standards
Venture Capitals Power Up Across MENA Region
Saudi Arabia Introduces Terms for 30-Year Income Tax Exemption for Multinational Companies
Saudi FM: Establishing Palestinian state is only pathway for Mideast stability
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
Elon Musk's Starlink Gets License For Israel, Parts Of Gaza
Influencers Exploit X Platform for Profit Amidst Israel-Gaza Conflict
PM Modi Announces Opening Of New CBSE Office In Dubai
International Criminal Court's Chief "Deeply Concerned" By Rafah Bombing
January Funding for MENA Startups Totals $86.5 Million
Saudi Arabia accelerates digital economy growth through Nvidia partnership
Indian female military officers commend Saudi Arabia's progress and women's empowerment
Israel unveils tunnels underneath Gaza City headquarters of UN agency for Palestinian refugees
Israel deploys new military AI in Gaza war
Egypt threatens to suspend key peace treaty if Israel pushes into Gaza border town, officials say
Israel Utilizes AI Military Technology in Gaza Conflict
Saudi Arabia Warns Of A "Humanitarian Catastrophe" If Israel Moves On Rafah
China Warns Iran to Halt Houthi Attacks or Damage Trade Ties
US University To Shut Qatar Campus Due To "Heightened Mideast Instability"
Iran-backed hackers interrupt UAE TV streaming services with deepfake news
Facebook and Instagram Ban Iran's Supreme Leader
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken: The Israelis underwent dehumanization on 7.10, this does not give them the right to do this to others.
Defense Technology Showcase Held in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports rise 2.5% to $6bn in November 2023: GASTAT
UK Bans Misleading "Zero Emissions" Claims for Electric Cars
Gaza's Teen Inventor Sparks Light in Displacement
Netanyahu Rejects Ceasefire Proposal, Insists On Total Victory Over Hamas
Guterres appoints independent UNRWA review panel
Private Sector Employment Hits Record High with Over 11 Million Employees in January
Rolls-Royce Executive Encourages Saudi Women to Tap into Their Inner 'Superhero' for Success in Defense Industry
Saudi Arabia launches National Academy of Vehicles and Cars
Saudi Tourism Minister Reveals Plan for 250,000 New Hotel Rooms by 2030
SAR to more than double eastern network passenger capacity with new trains deal
Saudi Arabia Enhances National Defense with New Partnerships
Saudi Aramco Maintains Arab Light Crude Pricing to Asia for March
NEOM Establishes New York Office to Support Investors
Saudi Wealth Fund Draws in Over $25 Billion Worth of Investments in Three Years, Al-Rumayyan Reveals
ZATCA Cautions Against Scammer Schemes
INTRA Defense Technologies inaugurates drone factory in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Alkhorayef, has announced a partnership with the London Metal Exchange to set up metal storage and delivery centers in the country. Alkhorayef highlighted Saudi Arabia's expanding military industries sector, crediting the Public Investment Fund (PIF) as a key partner, during his speech at the second PIF Private Sector Forum in Riyadh
×