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Question by Jim Shannon MP and APPG Co-Chair on the Afghan Resettlement Update Debate 18 July 2023

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) I think the Minister for his statement. Five days ago, the Government published their 2022 “Human Rights and Democracy” report, in which they refer to pathway 3 and the commitment that was given. It is nearly two years since the fall of Kabul and 18 months since the opening of pathway 3. In that time, few applicants have arrived in the UK. Many Members of this House, including the Minister, fought hard for the establishment of the pathway, which was originally intended to support vulnerable groups, including ethnic and religious minorities. It was promised that 20,000 people would be resettled in the UK under the scheme, yet it appears that the number brought to the UK so far is minimal, and applications have not opened for the original groups. Given the findings of the Hazara inquiry, detailing the escalating atrocity crimes and warning of a possible genocide, why has the scheme been so slow to open and process people?

Johnny Mercer The ACRS and ARAP processes do not lie with the piece of work we are discussing today, but I am more than happy to take those points away. In context, this has been an extremely generous scheme. I recognise that there is an appetite to relocate everyone who served in the Afghan armed forces, for example. We simply cannot do that—that is half a million people. We have a special duty to those who served alongside us and those in units 333 and 444 who worked with the UK special forces community. We are doing everything we can to fulfil that, but we have to be honest and realistic about what we can do in this space. All I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that the Prime Minister is absolutely determined to fulfil our commitments to these people. That is what he said to me when I was asked to take this over, and that is what he has demonstrated with the amount of money and resource he has directed at this. If we all pull together and work together in local government, national Government and the third sector, there is no reason why we cannot successfully integrate this generation of Afghans into British society today.

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