Sturgeon urges Johnson to increase Afghan refugees commitment

The First Minister called for the UK Government to increase its commitment from 20,000.

Sturgeon urges Johnson to increase Afghan refugees commitment Getty ImagesGetty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to increase the number of Afghan refugees the UK Government has committed to resettling.

In a letter, the First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister calling for the figure to be scaled up from 20,000, with 5000 in the first year.

Sturgeon insisted that a “substantial” increase in numbers is required, whilst seeking clarity on how many civilians – and particularly women, girls and others in need of refuge – will be protected.

The First Minister also asked for further detail on a proposed four nations summit on the Afghanistan crisis.

She wrote: “While recognising the pressures on accommodation capacity, we are concerned that the commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees in ‘the long term’ and just 5000 in the first year is not sufficient in the context of the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding. 

“We believe a commitment to a substantial increase in numbers is required and urgently seek further details of how civilians, especially women, girls and others in need of refuge will be protected. 

“As you will be aware, all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities participated in the Syrian Resettlement Programme, with over 3500 refugees welcomed into communities across Scotland under both that programme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. 

“We want our local authorities to be able to continue to provide strong support for refugees. 

“To do that, we need more detail about the new Afghan Citizens Resettlement Programme, including timescales for arrivals and funding to support local authority participation, as well as wider services which are essential to support people to settle and be able to begin to rebuild their lives.”

 The letter was sent by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (ScotGov)

Sturgeon asked Johnson about the options for humanitarian routes available for people in Afghanistan.

“People across our communities, including Afghans with family and friends who are still in Afghanistan, are distressed and concerned about how people will be able to leave and find a place of safety,” she wrote.

“I am keen to know more about options for humanitarian routes for people in Afghanistan.  In the current situation, many people will find it extremely difficult to directly reach a place of safety. 

“We must work to reduce the risk of people being forced to make perilous journeys or becoming vulnerable to the exploitation of traffickers.”

On Tuesday, G7 leaders met virtually to discuss the crisis in the country.

It comes as the Taliban say there will be no evacuations from Afghanistan after the August 31 deadline.

The militants said they will take a “different stance” after the cut-off date for evacuations passes.

And during a press conference in Kabul spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “August 31 is the time given and after that it’s something that is against the agreement.

“All people should be removed prior to that date.

“After that we do not allow them, it will not be allowed in our country, we will take a different stance.

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