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18 August 2021

The UK has deported more than 15,000 Afghan migrants to Afghanistan since 2008

The UK has made the highest number of forced repatriations to Afghanistan over the past 13 years of any European country.

By Katharine Swindells

The UK parliament has been recalled from its summer recess today for an emergency debate on the Afghanistan crisis. 

On 18 August, amid harrowing images of Afghan people flooding Kabul airport in an attempt to board the few flights leaving the country, the UK government announced a new resettlement scheme.

The UK has deported over 15,000 migrants to Afghanistan since 2008
Afghan nationals returned following an order to leave, 2008-2020

The scheme will accept 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan into the UK over five years, prioritising those deemed most in need of protection from the Taliban. Some have criticised this plan as not being ambitious enough – it is similar in size to the Syrian scheme of recent years, but Syria’s population is half that of Afghanistan.

“If the Canadians can take 20,000, why are we only taking 20,000 over five years?” said the Labour peer Lord Dubs. “These people are in danger now and are in desperate need for safety.”

Others have noted that the number is significantly reduced when taking into account the number of Afghan migrants who have been deported over the past decade.

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Analysis of Eurostat data found that since 2008, European countries have forcibly repatriated over 70,000 people back to Afghanistan. The UK is the largest contributor to this number, making up a fifth (22 per cent) of European forced deportations to Afghanistan since 2008.

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