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Home Office obstructing safe exit of Afghan refugees, reports claim

HOME SECRETARY Priti Patel has been condemned over allegations her department is obstructing the safe exit of Afghan allies due to concerns over the message this would send to other refugees. 

Senior military sources are said to be blaming the Home Office for failures to evacuate key personnel as the Taliban closed in on Kabul today, according to the Sunday Times. 

The paper reported that the ministry is reluctant to offer them asylum because of fears about the message this would send to other refugees, despite a collapsing security situation which is expected to prompt hundreds of thousands to flee Afghanistan. 

The Home Office said the comments are “categorically incorrect.” 

But Amnesty International UK said the reports “seem consistent with other news that visas for Afghans selected for scholarships to study in the UK have been put on hold.”

Labour MP Zarah Sultana also hit out at the Home Office. “[Priti Patel’s] sheer cruelty and inhumanity is astonishing, especially given Britain’s key role in creating this crisis,” she said. 

Campaign group Women for Refugee Women said it was very concerned by reports the Home Office is blocking efforts to protect Afghan refugees and urged ministers to provide safe passage for those in danger, especially for women. 

It comes after the Greek government said it would continue to deport Afghan nationals, claiming that stopping returns would “send the wrong message.” 

Amnesty’s refugee and migrant rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds said the disaster in Afghanistan exposes the lies behind the British government’s case for its Nationality and Borders Bill. 

The proposed legislation would only guarantee protection in Britain for those arriving through official routes. Asylum-seekers coming via unauthorised routes face being criminalised and deported.  

“We must hope pressure will cause ministers to relent but that won’t change what has been glaringly exposed — there is no true commitment to establishing safe routes for people to receive asylum in the UK, only a cruel and reckless determination to prevent refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere doing so,” he said. 

The British government has also been urged not to shirk its responsibilities to Afghan nationals with links to the British mission who are not covered by its fast-track refugee visa scheme. 

It comes as dozens of people who worked for the British Council and government projects say they are in hiding after being excluded from the Ministry of Defence-run Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy. 

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office has already resettled over 3,300 Afghan staff and their families who have worked for the UK. 
 
“We will continue to fulfil our international obligations and moral commitments.” 

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