The British government admitted that more might be done to aid Afghan citizens and their families in settling in Britain following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
Prior to the announcement, Britain said it would welcome up to 5,000 Afghans escaping the Taliban during the first year of a new resettlement scheme that would target women, girls, religious and other minorities.
“We know there is more that can be done for those who have risked their lives supporting us,” a UK government spokesperson said in an emailed statement late Friday. “Approximately 5% of councils have declined to sign up to our relocation and assistance scheme, and close to a third of councils have already stepped up to support new arrivals, but we know there is more that can be done for those who have risked their lives supporting us.”
“This is why we’re urging all councils that haven’t yet made a concrete offer of assistance to assist Afghan nationals and their families as they create a new life here in safety,” added the spokesman.
The Telegraph newspaper reported earlier that around 30 councils have refused to take any Afghan refugees who have arrived in the UK after fleeing the Taliban.
An initial request from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to local authorities was met with push back from around 10% of England’s 333 councils, the newspaper had reported.
“We do not recognise these figures”, the government spokesperson said in response to the report.
“Councils in England, Scotland and Wales will have access to a share of an additional £5 million to help them provide the necessary housing and support to Afghans who have worked for this country in Afghanistan, but who now face threats of persecution or worse,” the statement added.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August from a U.S.-backed government, sending thousands fleeing and potentially heralding a return to the militants’ austere and autocratic rule of two decades ago.
Britain has so far evacuated more than more than 14,500 Afghan and British nationals, the defence ministry said late on Friday.