MoD apologises after Afghans told to seek Taliban approval for UK asylum
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been forced to apologise “unreservedly” for asking Afghans to get their documents approved by the Taliban in order to seek asylum in the UK.
Applicants to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, which offers relocation or other assistance to those who worked alongside British forces, were asked by UK officials to have their certificates stamped by the Afghan government.
Dan Jarvis, a Labour MP and former soldier who served in Afghanistan, said this was akin to asking Afghans to “sign their own death warrant”.
An investigation by The Independent found that numerous applicants were asked by the MoD to provide birth and marriage certificates in English that bore stamps from the Afghan government – the very people the applicants are fleeing from.
The Taliban has run the Afghan government since seizing power in August 2021.
An MoD spokesperson said: “Last month, we were notified of an error in recent communications with a group of ARAP applicants, instructing them to verify documents with local authorities.
“The 37 affected applicants were notified of the error and have since responded to the correct instructions and confirmed they are currently safe.”
The MoD said it was conducting a review to identify any further actions needed to strengthen policies and processes.
It added: “We apologise unreservedly for this error and will continue supporting ARAP-eligible individuals as we progress their safe relocation, alongside the 12,200 people already brought to the UK.”
Mr Jarvis told The Independent: “Asking our Afghan allies to have their papers approved by the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs is like asking them to sign their own death warrant.
“These requests by the UK Government show a complete disregard to the grave realities eligible Afghans face, pushing desperate men into perilous situations.”
Tobias Ellwood, Tory chair of the defence select committee, told the newspaper: “We need to ensure our offers of protection are not compromised. We must do the right thing.”
John Healey, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said that ministers “urgently” need to fix the ARAP scheme.
The ARAP scheme was launched on April 1, 2021.