SVP backs call to PM to reunite families separated by 2021 Afghanistan evacuation programme

The St Vincent de Paul Society is backing a letter to the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about its failure to deliver on promises that were made to reunite Afghan families who were evacuated to the UK.

SVP along with Charity Safe Passage International, other Afghan activists and the Families Together Coalition, sent the letter to Number 10 on 17th January.

In the letter, the coalition highlights the fact that, nearly 18-months after British military operations to evacuate eligible Afghans from Afghanistan following the 2021 Taliban takeover, families members remain left behind in a country plagued by a constant flow of allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Two schemes to reunite Afghan evacuees with their families, the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), formerly the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), were designed to help them settle and integrate into UK society, however the signatories on the letter, including the SVP CEO Elizabeth Palmer, are asking for the Prime Minister to recommit to reunite families separated during the evacuations as the government promised.

In the letter, the signatories state: “The Ukraine Family Scheme shows that the government can help families reunite at pace. Today, just as the government rightly responded to save Ukrainian lives, we ask that the government acts with the same urgency to bring Afghan families to safety.”

When chaotic events unfolded in Kabul, and people desperately tried to flee the Taliban-run country, the British government promised that those who boarded the flight would be resettled in the UK and joined with any loved ones left behind – a pledge that has not yet been fulfilled.

The SVP is also working to help Afghans now living in the UK such as The Good Shepherd Conference in Telford and Shrewsbury. They have supported more than 200 Afghan people trapped in hotels after fleeing their own country, some who have since been resettled in permanent homes.

SVP has been advocating on the behalf of the Afghans by arranging meetings with local MPs to ask for their help resettling and reunite families.

The SVP has also collected evidence from other parish-based volunteers to highlight the injustice Afghans currently face in the UK. The evidence was submitted to the government prompting a call for an urgent review of the resettlement scheme and for all at risk to be equipped with the protection and security they need and deserve.

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