Afghan refugees will be given permanent residency visas when arriving in the UK, Boris Johnson has announced today.
Johnson told the House of Commons today that the 20,000 refugees who will come to the UK via the Afghanistan settlement scheme will be given “indefinite leave to remain”.
Five thousand refugees will be handed visas this year, with a further 15,000 set to come to the UK over the next three years.
Johnson announced today that refugees will also get access to free English courses and 300 university scholarships.
“We are upholding Britain’s finest tradition of welcoming those in need and I emphasise that under this scheme we will of course work with the UN and aid agencies to identify those we should help,” he said.
“We will also include Afghans who have contributed to civil society or who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example, because of their role in standing up for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, or sexuality or religion.”
The UK completed last week its evacuation effort in Afghanistan, with a little more than 300 eligible Afghans left behind.
Last week, foreign secretary Dominic Raab called on the Taliban to open the Kabul airport and allow safe passage for people eligible to leave.
Johnson said today that the Taliban must stick to its international obligations if it wants to access state funds held overseas.
“Our first duty is the security of the United Kingdom and if the new regime in Kabul wants international recognition and access to the billions of dollars currently frozen in overseas accounts, then we and our friends will hold them to their agreement to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming an incubator for terrorism,” he said.
“And we shall insist on safe passage for anyone who wishes to leave, and respect for the rights of women and girls.”