Afghan Refugees and Asylum Arrivals
If you are looking for ways to support Afghans at this crisis time:
Understanding diverse groups of Afghans with different support and options,
Notes from REAP 29/9/21 Update/Notes from discussions: General overview – not for advice work or quoting.
Outline: 8 broad groups of Afghans can be seen among those reaching the UK, all or any of which voluntary organisations or others may aim to support. Different people in different situations are likely to have different needs and it will probably help organisations to plan support better if they look at these differences carefully. Each broad group has some of the same rights, entitlements and needs and some different – we will post better information as we get it.
a) ‘ARAP‘ ‘interpreters’ – Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy: (interpreters/families, children U18) ‘Locally employed staff’ will have right to work, Universal Credit, 5 years Leave to Remain, will get support package while getting settled. If direct family members are still in Afghanistan some may be able to join them here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghan-relocations-and-assistance-policy/afghan-relocations-and-assistance-policy-information-and-guidance also See ‘Handbook’ link below“If you think you are eligible, you can e-mail email@example.com. …It is unlikely that you will be able to apply for this if you arrived in the UK by any other means.” (RAHandbook, See below)
b) Other evacuees: from Afghanistan flown into the UK, immigration status and entitlement being decided now. Currently housed similarly to ARAP, they will have 6 months Leave to Remain. During this time they will be contacted if they are considered eligible for the Resettlement Scheme (below). Don’t know what the situation will be for those who are not contacted or considered eligible., Presumably they will apply for asylum through usual routes? See attached http://reap.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Extract-from-Govt-Next-steps-in-the-UK-Resettlement-scheme_DL-290921.docx link to the full document is above.
c) Resettlement: The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS): (similar to the previous Syrian Resettlement Scheme) will settle people including some of the other evacuees, plus those who are currently in refugee camps in countries around Afghanistan, but details tbc as some people already here may be registered with this scheme. (Qn? Is the goal still 5k per year? As Other evacuees already in the UK will now be joining this scheme will this change the numbers allowed to enter in the first year?) See ‘RAHandbook’ link below
d) Overland arrivals: Those who will make their own way to the UK, including overland, crossing the Channel etc. We assume they will follow normal asylum routes to claim asylum and be accommodated if destitute by Home Office/NASS providers while waiting for a decision on their asylum claim; but if the new Immigration Bill is passed without changes, may find they are facing a new set of hostile challenges.
e) Waiting asylum-seekers: men, women, families and unaccompanied children who were already in the UK seeking asylum and waiting for decisions on their claims for asylum. Their situation was the same as that of Sudanese, Eritreans and many others who have asked for asylum and are waiting, often in temporary accommodation like hotels or former student halls of residence. People who are in the appeals process after an initial refusal are in much the same situation.
From RAHandbook “On 31 June 2021, there were more than 70,000 people of all nationalities in the UK waiting for a decision on an asylum claim. …the backlog of undecided claims was still rising. [Source: GOV.UK: How many people do we grant asylum or protection to?] According to the BBC, on 31 March 2021 there were 3,117 Afghan nationals waiting for a decision on an asylum claim and 2,200 of those had been waiting for more than 6 months. … [Source: BBC: Afghanistan: How many asylum seekers has the UK taken in?] …in the year ending 31 June 2021. Of all the decisions made on Afghan asylum claims (1,089 decisions), roughly 46% were grants of asylum or humanitarian protection. Of all the appeals decided (171 appeals), roughly 56% were allowed (i.e. successful). These outcomes relate to the time before the fall of Kabul.”
See Also the Right to Remain toolkit for asylum-seekers, so they can learn more about the asylum process https://righttoremain.org.uk/toolkit/
f) Refused: People who have been refused asylum previously, and either had agreed to leave the country or were subject to deportation. Their situation may have changed since the Taliban took control in Afghanistan, and they may be appealing against their earlier negative decisions.
g) Children and Young people on their own: who have claimed asylum who are in the UK without parents or close carers, ‘unaccompanied minors’, some of them Looked After Children, in the care of local authorities. There are more such young people nearer the ‘ports of entry’ eg. Dover, Heathrow and also Croydon. They may be from any country, but there have been a number of Afghan children in this cohort for many years.
h) British-Afghans: People originally from Afghanistan who claimed asylum/refugees and are settled in the UK, many of whom are now British nationals (and older/adult children born here), working and may be supporting others or worried about family and those left in Afghanistan. Search for ‘family reunion’. Some family members may be able to apply to join them, eg. older relatives they will care for, children still under 18.
If you need goods or want to donate items (clothes, bedding, children’s items etc.), we regret but REAP cannot handle donations of goods. In West London the following organisations have systems set up to collect, store and distribute goods. Please contact them first.
Salvation Army in individual boroughs (‘Shop’ in UB3, Coldharbour Lane)
Phones4Them (recycle good quality used phones and chargers)
West London Welcome
Bell Farm (UB7) RING or EMAIL first
Hillsong Church, London
Food banks – food / toiletries. Hillingdon Food Bank
Little Village “Like a food bank but for toys clothes equipments for babies and children up to age 5.”
Happy Baby Community “A community of support for women who have fled from violence or traffickers, and are pregnant or with a young child and are seeking international protection in the UK.”
Other support for Afghans growing across the UK:
ACAA Afghanistan and Central Asian Association Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Afghan Academy – Afghan helpline
DAWN Mental Health Charitable Trust (Harrow-based, phone counselling available), Afghan Women’s welfare group
Paiwand Afghan Association Northwest London
We will continue to add to this page in coming days and weeks.
Information and Influence and Information
Write to your MP and ask them what they can do to make sure Afghans have safe routes to places of refuge, including into the UK.
Refugee Action Handbook: UK Immigration Options for Afghan Citizens Link inserted 29/9/21 Handbook: UK Immigration Options for Afghan Citizens (google.com) Quotes from website: “This handbook is for Afghan nationals in the UK who need information on the available immigration options for themselves or for their family members in Afghanistan. It can also be used by people who are advising or giving information to Afghan citizens in the UK. However, if you are not a regulated immigration adviser, you can only read or translate extracts of this handbook – you should not try to explain further.” “There is a helpline: Telephone 02475 389 980 and select option 1 (Monday to Sunday, 6am to 6pm)” Contact RA Good Practice Together <email@example.com>
Govt website 23/8/21: Support for British and non-British nationals in Afghanistan – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The Welsh Refugee Council has the following information about UNHCR (d/l 24/8/21 under the title ‘Should I contact UNHCR for help?
UNHCR is not involved in evacuations from Kabul. UNHCR is currently only able to resettle refugees from neighbouring countries. Their priority in Afghanistan right now is emergency assistance and aid delivery.
If you are an Afghan in Iran, please contact UNHCR https://help.unhcr.org/iran/arrival/
If you are an Afghan in Pakistan, please contact UNHCR at https://help.unhcr.org/pakistan/
25/8/21 Briefing from London Councils