Afghan refugees who worked for the U.K. military and government can permanently stay in the country, the Home Office announced on Wednesday.
“They’ve done right by us, we want to do right by them,” Home Office minister Victoria Atkins told Sky News.
14,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan, with 8,000 Afghans citizens eligible through the U.K.’s Afghan Relocation & Assistance Policy scheme. The government pledged £12 million for education efforts, £3 million for healthcare needs and £5 million for housing, Atkins confirmed. Instead of the five years’ residency previously proposed, those eligible can move to the U.K. permanently as part of the government’s “Operation Warm Welcome”.
Atkins said that the U.K. “will use every lever at our disposal” to ensure Taliban lives up to its commitments towards other eligible Afghans who could not leave the country.
Evacuation efforts ended days before the British military exited Afghanistan on Saturday, while American troops left on August 31, ending their 20-year military presence in the country.
The foreign office is in intense discussions with third countries in the region to make sure they can deal fairly with people fleeing Afghanistan, Atkins added.
Yet Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab could not give a “firm figure” on how many people were still in Afghanistan but eligible to come to the U.K.