Socialist Worker

‘Tories humiliate us’—Afghan refugee campaigner slams hypocrisy

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2769

Protesters in Glasgow demand more Afghan refugees are let into Britain

Protesters in Glasgow demand more Afghan refugees are let into Britain (Pic: Afghan Human Rights Foundation)


Clinging onto moving planes, babies being passed over barbed wire and foreign soldiers screaming orders. These are just some of the chaotic scenes from Kabul’s main airport in Afghanistan.

Thousands of people are desperately trying to flee the country, but Western governments are stalling their plans to take in refugees.

In Britain, the new resettlement scheme will allow just 20,000 Afghan refugees to come to Britain over the next five years.

To put that in context, Germany’s government estimates as many as 5 million people could flee Afghanistan.

The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will supposedly bring over 5,000 Afghans fleeing persecution from the Taliban by the end of the year.

But there are fears that by the time Britain has decided it will take them, many will already have died.

Afghanistan—first the Russians, then the US
Afghanistan—first the Russians, then the US
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Mohammed Asif is the founder of Afghan Human Rights Foundation. He told Socialist Worker, “It is Britain and America who should take responsibility for their failures.

“They failed and committed the biggest betrayal. The Afghan regime was corrupt and run by warlords, but it was a regime installed by Britain and the US.

“There should be no cap on the people coming.”

Nothing has been arranged for the 3,000 Afghans waiting in limbo on their asylum claims, with no refugee or settled status.

While waiting, asylum seekers cannot work or access benefits and get just £5.69 a day to survive on for an unknown amount of time.

Mohammed said, “In Britain you can't bring your wife and children over if you can't afford it.

“You have to earn a certain amount before, but for people with no education or in poverty or on minimum wage they're never going to make the cap.

“The Tories blame all ills in society and failures on migrants and asylum seekers. Britain has destroyed so many countries around the world.”

Boris Johnson has promised that deportations to Afghanistan won’t take place—for now. Yet on Tuesday morning the Home Office still claimed Kabul was a safe place to be deported to.

Now officials are to “consider the situation”.

Those accepted under the lottery scheme will receive housing, welfare and employment support. But no start date for the scheme has been announced.

The Tories are also known to make false promises when it comes to resettlement schemes—the only “legal” route into Britain they recognise

And Priti Patel has said that any Afghans who arrive on boats across the Channel will be treated the same as any other who enters the country that way—with hostility.

On the radio she said that those travelling through “illegal” means will have travelled through a safe country and their eligibility for assistance will be in doubt.

Mohammed slammed the Home Office, saying they “humiliate Afghan people—it’s insulting and degrading.

“I know one Afghan family with an 80 year old man who has a wife and daughter. He was refused asylum but won in an appeal tribunal a five year status. Then the Home Office appealed against this.

“This man is 80 years old with mental health issues of the highest form—he has physically harmed himself."

The Home Office has continually deported Afghan asylum seekers since Britain invaded 10 years ago. Many are denied refugee status when they turn 18 despite having spent the majority of their childhood in Britain.

Border crossings, asylum and migration—the truth behind the headlines
Border crossings, asylum and migration—the truth behind the headlines
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Between 2009 and 2015, the Home Office deported 605 Afghans who arrived as unaccompanied minors.

Until 2016, the Home Office operated monthly charter flights to return rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Now the government uses commercial flights.

The Tories are also known to make false promises when it comes to resettlement schemes—the only “legal” route into Britain they recognise.

Worldwide just 1 percent of refugees are accepted via these methods.

The Syrian vulnerable person’s resettlement scheme set out to resettle 20,000 people in need of protection by 2020.

It’s taken since 2014 for 20,000 Syrians to be resettled—and Afghanistan has double the population of Syria.

A government promise to support 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Calais 2016, many of them from Afghanistan, ended up only helping about 380.

Already congratulating themselves, the Tories reek of hypocrisy.

They want to use the issue to pretend they’re interested in helping ordinary Afghan people. But Britain and the US’s 20 year war has caused millions of Afghan refugees—tens of thousands of who are still stuck in refugee camps across Europe.

If governments were really interested in helping people fleeing war, repression and poverty, they’d open the borders—for everyone.

Protest at the Home Office. Let Afghan refugees in, Monday 23 August, 6pm, 2 Marsham Street, London. Details here.

Solidarity in Coventry

Solidarity in Coventry


Protests demand that refugees are welcome

Protests have taken place across Britain to demand Afghan refugees are welcomed.

Hundreds of people joined a demonstration called by The Stop the War Coalition and the Afghan Human Rights Foundation on Wednesday .

Daniel Mwangi told Socialist Worker, “Anti-racist activists who took the stage pointed at Britain’s major role in the war calling for the Home Office to provide safer routes for those fleeing Afghanistan.

“In Glasgow public memory of the hundreds of people who mobilised to block an immigration raid was brought to light with loud chants of refugees being welcome here.”

In Coventry on Saturday, up to 40 people attended an event to welcome refugees from Afghanistan into the city.

One speaker said, “People say there is not enough housing, but this is because of a Tory government that has not build social housing for decades."

Fears

Sayed, a young man from Afghanistan now living in Coventry, spoke of his fears for his family.

Shamiso, from Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group said, “The British government agreed to take 20,000. This is not enough. What about the extra ones?  Are they going to be left?"

David Kersey, from Unison and Coventry TUC union federation said, “We need our trade unions to “make it clear to our members that refugees are not the cause of our problems."

Andy Petitt from Coventry Stand Up to Racism said, “Priti Patel’s position is that we cannot encourage refugees from Afghanistan as it will encourage more refugees. Yet this is a very rich country. We can afford to take refugees.

In Portsmouth on Thursday, around 50-60 people turned out to declare “Afghan refugees are welcome here”.

Portsmouth Trades Council sent its banner and there was also one from Unison and representation from other unions.

Heartbreaking

Among those speaking was Kurdish refugee Bavil Ahmad. “What is happening in Afghanistan is heartbreaking. As a refugee myself, I understand the situation and plight of the Afghan people. It’s terrifying," he said.

In Leeds on Saturday about 50 people took part and many of them were local Afghan people.

There was also a refugees welcome protest of about 60 people in Norwich. In York around 30 people attended a protest with a strong anti-war sentiment. People chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear, Afghan people welcome here”.

And in Bristol on Saturday, around 40 people gathered in the town centre.

Speakers all slammed the government’s hypocrisy for pretending to care about refugees having pushed an anti-migrant agenda for years.

NEU education union national executive member John Reddiford said, “We should be taking many more and the government needs to be forced to provide the funding.”


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