New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
18 August 2021

Why the government’s pledge to take 20,000 Afghan refugees is inadequate

Twenty thousand is the same number Britain resettled from Syria, a country close to half the size of Afghanistan – and in practice, the total may be smaller.

By Stephen Bush

Parliament has been recalled to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, as the government has announced it will take 20,000 Afghan refugees – though when you look at the small print, the actual figure this year is 5,000. 

Although parliament is discussing a so-called “neutral motion”, which cannot be amended and also means that Boris Johnson can, if he chooses, rock up, say his piece, and then leave in short order, the main reason why the government has announced this measure is to minimise the public criticism from its own backbenchers. 

That said, it is a relatively small amount. The 20,000 figure is the same number we resettled from Syria, a country close to half the size of Afghanistan. In practice, it may be smaller even than that: because the United Kingdom has prioritised religious minorities and women and girls, who are most at risk from the Taliban takeover. 

The trouble is that because there are no direct routes from Afghanistan itself, in practice the refugees the United Kingdom will be welcoming are people who will have made covert crossings by land or sea to neighbouring countries, who are more likely to be men and boys, and the history of the Home Office quibbling the religious commitment or indeed the sexuality of refugees is long, well-established and grubby. 

MPs and peers have a job of work to do if they are to make sure that the UK’s commitment to Afghanistan’s people is anything like the claimed 20,000 within the next five years. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors

Topics in this article :