Just 10,000 out of 119k resettled in the UK under Afghan resettlement scheme, FOI finds

Just 10,158 eligible personnel had been relocated to the UK(Ministry of Defence/PA) (PA Media)
Just 10,158 eligible personnel had been relocated to the UK(Ministry of Defence/PA) (PA Media)

Just over 10,000 applicants have been resettled as part of the UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), a Freedom of Information request has found.

The scheme was established in April 2021 to relocate those who worked for, and alongside the UK Armed Forces as the Taliban reclaimed Afghanistan following the West’s withdrawal from the state.

In August, the Taliban took complete control of the city but many Afghans hoping to leave the country were left stranded under the Taliban’s rule.

Despite the risk to life for those who worked with the UK in Afghanistan, a Freedom of Information request from the Standard, has since found that the scheme has received 119,305 applicants as of June 30, 2022.

Of that number, just 10,158 eligible personnel had been relocated to the UK as of July 22, 2022, the MoD said.

The MoD did add, however, that the overall figure for applicants “includes a significant number of duplicate applications and therefore does not represent the number of unique individual applicants”.

An MoD source working on scheme, told the Standard that it is due to the criteria for those applying, the strict vetting process and those applicants who have sent multiple applications, for the discrepancy in the numbers.

According to the ministry, it is also not currently possible to know how many applicants awaiting a decision are currently in Afghanistan or have moved to a third country.

In order to qualify for the scheme, applicants must be able tp prove that they were employed by the UK and are at an imminent or high risk to life, or if they provided linguistic services to the Armed Forces.

If successful, applicants will be able to bring certain family members with them and be given permanent residency, the MoD states.

In addition to ARAP, the UK also launched the the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme in January 22, 2022.

ACRS hopes to relocate 5,000 citizens in the first year and 20,000 over the years it is operational.

This scheme focuses on women and children, with the first family arriving in January 2022.

Approximately, 18,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan by the UK last year.

In contrast,104,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in the UK through the two via routes since the scheme was launched in March, the Home Office’s latest figures show.

The total includes 31,300 people under the family scheme, and 72,700 people under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.

Overall, there have been almost 200,000 visa applications, meaning just over half of those who have applied have arrived in the UK.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We continue to relocate eligible Afghans who worked with and for the UK Armed Forces under the ARAP scheme, and to date over 10,100 people have been moved to the UK. We continue to work with partners in the region to bring out as many eligible people as we can on a regular basis.

“The number of applicants who are eligible under the scheme is a small fraction of the number of applications. The ARAP scheme was set up to relocate those who worked for and alongside our UK Armed Forces and is not intended as an open resettlement scheme for all Afghans wishing to relocate to the UK.

“All ARAP applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, against all categories of eligibility. Processing timelines can vary due to the complexity and personal circumstances of each applicant.”