Friday, October 22, 2021
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UK’s Johnson to update lawmakers over crisis in Afghanistan

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to brief lawmakers during an emergency session on Wednesday about the evacuation of British nationals and their allies from Afghanistan and the measures taken by the government to help Afghan citizens facing the return of the Taliban.

Johnson, who spoke to US President Joe Biden on Tuesday about the situation in Afghanistan, is expected to elaborate on details of a new settlement that would allow up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees to seek refuge in the UK in the years to come.

The PM is also expected to tell lawmakers, who have been summoned to parliament for the emergency session, that there must be an immediate increase in aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan after the Taliban take power. .

Development charities have noted, however, that any increase in aid to the country – Foreign Minister Dominic Raab says it will be around 10% – would come after the government cuts spending on the country by 75%. help from UK.

Demonstrations are planned outside parliament to call for support from Afghans and their families.

Like Biden, Johnson has been the subject of much criticism for the sudden turn of events in Afghanistan, which saw the Taliban return to power two decades after being ousted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Criticism has been particularly sharp from the veterans and families of the 457 British soldiers who died in the country while fighting there as part of an international military operation.

Under the UK government’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Program, up to 5,000 refugees would be admitted to the UK this year, and a total of 20,000 would be offered a way to settle in the UK in the years to come.

The program will focus on women, children and others who have been forced to flee their homes or face threats of persecution from the Taliban, the government said.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the past 20 years,” Johnson said.

Opposition parties and some members of Johnson’s Conservative Party say the plan did not go far enough to make a real difference, with some urging an increase in the number of allowed refugees to more than 50,000.

The government said the new program would be in addition to the 5,000 Afghans already expected in the UK under the Afghanistan Resettlement and Assistance Policy (PFRA), which is designed to provide local allies such as interpreters a priority relocation to the UK. UK government figures showed 2,000 have already arrived under the PARA program.

Officials said 520 British nationals, diplomats and former Afghan staff had left Afghanistan since Saturday on British military flights from Kabul. The last flight carrying British nationals and evacuated Afghans landed Tuesday evening at RAF Brize Norton, located about 75 miles northwest of London.

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