Many of you have been in contact with my office since mid-August when the news first broke about the Taliban’s resurgence and subsequent takeover of Afghanistan. It has been a deeply saddening and challenging time for all, with many of my constituents either stuck in Afghanistan themselves having to seek a way to flee the country or having family members there whose lives have been placed in danger by the Taliban and are in desperate need of being evacuated or offered assistance with leaving the country as quickly as possible.
As many of you may be aware, I have made hundreds of representations on this matter for constituents such as yourself who have been deeply affected by the tragic situation in Afghanistan. My office has processed in the region of 500 cases over the last few weeks or so, with my small team doing their best to rise to the challenge and meet the increasing demand for help, advice and assistance – often working around the clock.
The situation has been extremely fast-changing and a time of great anxiety for you all. I have however, throughout the duration continued to do my utmost to bring whatever relief I can through the interventions of my office whilst continuing to press the Government for immediate and decisive action.
Sadly, following the statement of the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, then Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, last Friday 10 September about how MPs’ correspondence in relation to Afghanistan on behalf of their constituents was being handled, my office, and many other MPs’ offices, have had no further responses to our representations to the Home Office, the FCO or the ARAP schemes.
Further to this, we learnt on Monday 13 September from the statement in Parliament of Victoria Atkins MP, the Minister for Afghan Resettlement that it is clear that we will not receive any responses regarding constituent cases from now onwards.
The Government stated:
“We must deal with the circumstances as they are, rather than as we would wish them to be. This new reality means that, at present, we cannot provide MPs assessments or updates on those individuals who remain in Afghanistan and whose cases they have raised. We appreciate that is difficult news to deliver to constituents who are desperately worried about family members and friends. With great regret, we will not be able, therefore, to respond to colleagues with specific updates on individuals. The deteriorating security situation means that such information is not possible to obtain or may change very quickly.”
I have attached the full letter to this for your attention. Should you wish to read the full Parliamentary statement, you will find it here:
I want to be clear that I find the Government’s response disgraceful, especially given the time and effort we have spent logging your families’ details with the Home Office and relevant departments. I can only apologise for this very distressing news delivered by this Conservative Government.
There is no guarantee that any of our emails have been read or logged, MPs have now been asked to simply signpost you to the guidance provided rather than seek to pursue cases on your behalf.
The Government has asked that you directly apply yourself for relocation. Please follow the following links to make an application (these links will be made available on my website):
The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) have advised British nationals in Afghanistan, who have not already done so, to register their presence to receive important updates at: https://www.register-afghanistan.service.csd.fcdo.gov.uk/afghanistan-20210828/confirm-your-presence-in-afghanistan-to-fcdo
We are aware that British nationals and others wishing to leave Afghanistan are desperate for information about third-party countries they may try to get to. The FCDO says that British nationals remaining in Afghanistan are advised to consider carefully the risks should they attempt to leave the country by any route. To speak to an FCDO consular officer, please call (+44) (0)207 008 500 or +44 1908 516 666
Due to the shifting landscape, I have also provided a clear table of all the available immigration routes which you will also find in the ARAP document on the reception desk at the Advice Surgery (along with other useful information) and on the first link above, for ease of reference. All applications must be made online. It is worth also stating that the resettlement scheme is not yet open and you are advised to check the relevant webpage regularly.
In many instances constituents may require legal assistance to make the necessary applications, a process with which I am unfortunately not permitted to intervene as a Member of Parliament. I have provided below some organisations that may be of assistance in that regard.
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
441 Caledonian Road
Phone: 020 7251 8708
Fax: 020 7251 8707
Email: [email protected]
I will continue to update you and lobby the Government to take immediate action and to provide support for you, your family and friends.
Dawn Butler MP
Most recent letters from the Government on the issue: