Boris Johnson is preparing to announce a “new and bespoke resettlement scheme” for Afghans most in need, Downing Street has said.
The move could see the UK Government act on calls from campaigners to international leaders for a response to the refugee crisis that is likely to follow the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan.
Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai – who was shot in the head by the extremist group in 2012 after enraging them with her campaign for girls’ schooling – became the latest high-profile figure to push for all countries to open their borders to Afghan refugees amid the Taliban resurgence.
No 10 said the Prime Minister would give more information about the resettlement scheme in the coming days, with the scheme anticipated to be focused on helping those Afghans most in need, particularly women and girls.
British armed forces numbers in Afghanistan are to be bolstered to 900 as the push to get UK nationals and selected Afghans out of the country intensified since the Taliban took Kabul.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The UK team in Afghanistan is working around the clock in incredibly difficult circumstances to help British nationals and as many others as we can get to safety as soon as possible.
“At the same time, we are bringing together the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis emerging in Afghanistan – it’s in everyone’s interest not to let Afghanistan fail.
“That means providing whatever support we can to the Afghan people who have worked so hard to make the country a better place over the last twenty years and who are now in need of our help.”
Officials said Johnson was agitating for high-level international discussions on the unfolding crisis, including using the UK’s G7 presidency to call a virtual meeting in the “coming days”.
He wants G7 leaders to focus on ensuring Afghanistan does not once again become a source of international terrorist threats, No 10 said.
There will also be an effort to secure support for the people of Afghanistan, including through increased humanitarian assistance and agreeing expectations of whatever government emerges in Afghanistan.
Downing Street wants the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – which, as well as the UK, includes the US, China, France and Russia – to meet following the full gathering that took place on Monday.
Following the Prime Minister’s phone call with French president Emmanuel Macron, in which he raised the prospect of a G7 meeting, the UK and France are expected to work together on a joint UNSC resolution.