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We joined more than 100 charities and human rights organisations in writing to the Home Secretary to urge a generous and compassionate welcome to Afghan refugees.

Together we called for several actions including the immediate release of all Afghan nationals from immigration detention, given that the justification for detention is that people are held in order to be 'removed', but this is currently impossible.

The letter also highlighted the grave risk to vast sections of Afghanistan's population:

The fall of Afghanistan to Taliban forces places the rights and lives of millions of people at risk. Reports confirm that widespread killings have already begun, with women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTIQ+ people, journalists and anyone seen as supporting an international organisation or the Afghan Government, throughout the country including Kabul, in immediate danger. This raises an enormous and urgent challenge to the Government’s current approach to refugee protection. History will judge how we respond.

We also highlighted how the government's resettlement-only approach to refugee protection, as set out in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently before parliament, is not sufficient, as people in these circumstances will be forced to flee by any means possible:

It is not feasible for refugees to wait for undefined periods of time in unsafe situations in the hope of resettlement in the context of what we have seen. Regulated travel is not a viable option. Many people need to flee urgently and by any means necessary, including by making irregular journeys. These must not be penalised.

We asked the Home Secretary to take the following steps to establish sustainable protection solutions for Afghan people already living in the UK, their families and loved ones, and for those who will inevitably flee and seek to reach our protection over the coming weeks and months:

1) Immediately publish new policy guidance that reflects the clear need for international protection for all those at risk.

2) Introduce a simplified process to grant immediate protection to any person from Afghanistan with an outstanding protection claim, and to facilitate expedited decisions on fresh or new claims going forwards.

3) No Afghan should be evicted from asylum accommodation.

4) Address limitations on access to family reunification for people from Afghanistan. Applications must be expedited, and criteria widened to include, for example, parents and siblings of applicants. Normal procedures requiring applications to take place through embassies must similarly be suspended.

6) No Afghan nationals should be in immigration detention and all those currently in detention should be released, given the impossibility of safely effectuating removals.

7) No Afghan national should be subjected to inadmissibility procedures and face removal to any third country.

8) Afghan Locally Employed Staff Relocation schemes must protect people working in all at-risk professions.

Find out more about how you can stand in solidarity with Afghan refugees.

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