UK Took in 1,500 Afghan Refugees in Secret Operation
UK’s Ministry of Defense has brought in 1,500 Afghan refugees into Britain through a secretive operation that began in October when Pakistan announced plans to expel undocumented foreigners in the country.
James Heappey, the Defense Minister, welcomed the Afghan refugees, who worked with the British army, to their new permanent homes wholeheartedly. He said the UK government owes these people an enormous debt.
This operation was initiated after the Rishi Sunak-led government decided that all Afghans eligible for the UK’s flagship resettlement schemes should be brought to Britain from Pakistan immediately. About 3,000 Afghans were stranded in hotels in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad after the UK stopped chartering their flights. The UK government said these families should find their own place to live in Britain before relocation.
Successful Operation Lazurite
The Defense Minister said the evacuation of Afghans was made possible under Operation Lazurite. “On 26 September, the then foreign secretary James Cleverly met with Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar in London. Cleverly praised Pakistan’s support in hosting and facilitating exit of Afghan nationals.”
Heappey said the B Company of the 3rd battalion of the Parachute Regiment were deployed on September 28 to the former signals base, MoD Garats Hay, and given 72 hours to get it ready to receive the Afghan refugees.
In regards to accommodation, he said the properties offered are taken from stock that is not currently being used by service families. “Where there is not suitable service family accommodation to fit the needs of Arap families, alternative accommodation will be procured.”
UK Embraces Afghan Refugees
Heappey said the UK government is working at the best speed to get people into the country. “We are really grateful to councils and communities across the country who are assisting us in that and to the Pakistan government for their continued support. We owe these people an enormous debt. They are not here illegally, quite the reverse. They are here because they did great work for and with the British armed forces during their time in Afghanistan.”
The Defense Minister said work had been done to bring down the backlog of applications to the MoD’s resettlement scheme, Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap). “We know who worked for us, therefore we know who is eligible. There are very, very few eligibility decisions left really to be taken. We know who we’ve got to bring out, both from Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Thousands more are still stranded in Afghanistan and Pakistan.