Skip to main content

Safe Passage from Afghanistan

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 26 October 2021

10. What diplomatic steps she is taking to support the safe passage of (a) UK citizens and (b) Afghan nationals from Afghanistan. (903839)

21. What steps her Department is taking to assist vulnerable Afghans leave Afghanistan to places of safety. (903850)

The Government continue to do all they can to ensure safe passage of eligible individuals who wish to leave Afghanistan. The UK has had constructive engagement with near neighbours, led by my noble Friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon. British nationals continue to be facilitated and supported in their exit from Afghanistan, including through Qatar Airways flights. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Afghan evacuees and the Qatari authorities on this very issue on her recent trip.

I thank the Minister for that answer and the Secretary of State for her recent update on this issue. It is important to acknowledge the considerable efforts that are being made, but concerns persist for those who remain and are seeking refuge or safe passage from Afghanistan. Members will understand that I cannot name my constituents for fear of putting their relatives in a deeply perilous state, but what more can the Government do to assist hon. Members to alleviate the anguish and distress of constituents with loved ones in Afghanistan? Will the Government commit to working with Members to secure safe passage from Afghanistan, removing their constituents from immediate risk?

The situation in Afghanistan is painful for us all. Three routes have been set up: for British nationals, through the Foreign Office; for Afghan nationals, through the Home Office; and for those who have supported us directly, through the Afghan relocations and assistance policy scheme. We continue to engage directly with the Taliban. The Prime Minister’s High Representative for Afghanistan, Simon Gass, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the UK mission to Afghanistan based in Doha, Dr Martin Longden, travelled to Afghanistan on 5 October to have direct talks with the Taliban, and to hold them to the commitments they have made about respecting and protecting people within Afghanistan.

Outside the ARAP scheme and within Operation Pitting, a number of other people were called forward for evacuation. Can the Minister give the House full transparency in terms of how many people were actually called forward, how many people were evacuated, and how many of that cohort still remain in Afghanistan?

Since 28 August, over 500 more individuals eligible to come to the UK have been able to leave Afghanistan, as well as more than 400 British nationals and their dependants. We have assisted over 135 British nationals and their dependants to leave Afghanistan on Qatar-chartered flights. The total number of people who may be eligible is almost impossible for us to assess with clarity.