PM urged to help Afghan families reunite

Last Updated on 18 January 2023 by Ann-Marie Nye

The Revd Fiona Bennett, United Reformed Church General Assembly Moderator, Safe Passage and more than 100 Afghan activists and organisations have written to the Prime Minister asking the government to help Afghans evacuated to the UK bring family to join them in safety.

The letter, published in full on 18 January, reads:

Nearly 18 months since Operation Pitting, we are deeply concerned that families torn apart during the evacuation remain separated.

We are asking you, Prime Minister, to honour the commitments made to Afghan families. Will you today recommit to reunite families separated during the evacuations as the government promised? Living in uncertainty, Afghan refugees are desperate to know that you have not forgotten their loved ones and will deliver on the promises made as Kabul fell.

Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives were separated in the chaos of trying to get on a flight in August 2021. At the time, your government rightly recognised that families belong together and promised that those airlifted to safety would be resettled with their loved ones. However, nearly a year and a half on families are being kept apart because no process has been put in place for their reunification under the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme.

It is hard for those in the UK to carry on and move forward whilst desperately missing their relatives left behind – their lives are not complete without their loved ones. Evacuees are trying to rebuild their lives in the UK but can only think of family they long to see in safety – including women, girls, those from vulnerable religious and ethnic minority communities. Many are struggling to concentrate in school, start work despite being highly skilled or settle into life here after sleepless nights worrying about family in hiding and at extreme risk. The separation is causing colossal strain on the mental health of families.

Separated families cannot wait a day longer. They need a quick and effective route to family reunion so that they can hug and hold each other again. The Ukraine Family Scheme shows that the government can help families reunite at pace. Today, just as the government rightly responded to save Ukrainian lives, we ask that you act with the same urgency to bring Afghan families to safety.

Families and the charities supporting them are anxious to find a solution. Will you meet with representatives of these families and charities, who can share their experiences and work with you to develop a way forward?

The full list of signatories can be found here.

Image: U.S Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/Wikimedia 


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