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One year on from fall of Kabul and Afghans are still living in grave danger


August is a month with dark memories for many Afghans. One year ago, in Afghanistan, city after city fell as the Taliban grew closer and closer to the capital. Then, on 15th of August, Kabul once again fell into Taliban control. Hundreds of Afghans had to flee the country in fear of persecution. Many were in particular danger because of their past work with the international community. A number were rescued by international efforts. But countless still remain, at high risk, and seeking a secure path to safety.

Our progress so far:

Since March 2022, the Afghan Pro Bono Initiative (APBI) which is a joint project between Refugee Legal Support (RLS), Safe Passage International (SPI), and 14 leading law firms has provided legal support to Afghans not only in Afghanistan but around the world. During the last months APBI project has provided to date:

  • Reliable and up-to-date legal information to more than 700 Afghans about safe routes to the UK.

  • Advice and/or representation for more than 150 Afghans. Of these, 70% received support in relation to joining their family members in the UK; 20% received advice on their applications for Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, and 10% received assistance with their enquires for Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

Urgent action is needed:

Now more than ever urgent action must be taken to protect those in danger. The application processes must be sped up, and fair and generous resettlement options offered so that Afghans can rebuild their lives or join their loved ones in the UK.

Many of the Afghans who assisted the UK government during the last 20 years and who applied for resettlement are still left in limbo without any progress in their cases a year later. The applicants, in obtaining protection, face significant obstacles and must go through complicated administrative processes. Many will be left with no choice but to make dangerous journeys to reach safety.

"They left me alone" :

Mansor, not his real name, who worked for the British government in Afghanistan had to flee to Pakistan. He says he did not receive a single response from the UK government for months and has found the last months depressing, frustrating, and frightening.

“I now regret working with the British government. They put me in danger. I stood with them shoulder by shoulder in dangerous places and supported them, but when I needed their help, they left me alone. I have no job, no access to my bank account, no food on my table for my children. We are facing a dark and an uncertain future.” Mansor says.

These dark days are not over. As an Afghan refugee myself writing this piece today, I call everyone to take stock, reflect and take action. We, legal support organisations, campaigners and allies across the UK and the global community have the power to put pressure on decision makers and show up in solidarity with Afghan people and their families. It takes time and effort.

It will take years and countless hours, but we need to persist.

The above is a statement written by our colleague Shamim, herself an Afghan refugee. She works on the Afghan Pro Bono Initiative, a joint project delivered by RLS, Safe Passage International and 14 commercial law firms.

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