THE Scottish Government has again warned against the UK Government’s rules on inadmissibility for refugees, following a call for action from the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC).

One year on from the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the SRC have called upon the UK Government to revive the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) to bring people at risk of violent reprisal to safety in the UK, fast-track the asylum claims of those from Afghanistan, and scrap inadmissibility rules “which deny protection to people based on the route they took to reach the UK.”

Writing in The National today, SRC chief executive Sabir Zazai noted that during the UK’s evacuation efforts in Afghanistan last year, “the UK only evacuated people who had worked with the UK Government, selecting them using extremely strict criteria.”

Zazai commented that the ACRS had “effectively not materialised” and has “helped a vanishingly small number of people”, adding: “It is frankly insulting that the Home Secretary made headlines by committing to bring 20,000 people to safety and has taken almost no action to make these headlines a reality.”

Speaking to The National in response to the SRC’s demands, a Scottish Government spokesperson emphasised that UK resettlement programmes are reserved to the UK Government and are handled by the Home Office, but said that the Scottish Government “has made clear to the UK Government on a number of occasions the significant concerns we have about the negative impact their New Plan for Immigration and Nationality and Borders Act will have on Scotland, and the UK, as a country of welcome and refuge.”

The spokesperson added that the UK Government’s inadmissibility rules risk “denying people who need protection the safety they need” and that it will lead to restrictions on the rights of some who are recognised as refugees because they have been forced to flee persecution and war in countries such as Afghanistan.

However, a Home Office spokesperson also told The National that that the SRC statement was “completely inaccurate” to suggest that the ACRS was inadequate.

The spokesperson said: “We’ve been clear from the start the ACRS will welcome up to 20,000 people in need over the course of five years.”

Arguing the the SRC statement does not acknowledge the welcoming of over 21,000 Afghans in one year under the ACRS and ARAP schemes, the spokesperson added: “We continue to stand by those who assisted our efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values like democracy, women’s rights and freedom of speech, as well as vulnerable people, including women and girls, and members of minority groups at risk”.  

Support for Afghans in Scotland on matters including employability, education and community integration has been provided by the Scottish Refugee Council’s Afghan Citizens’ Advice Service, which can be reached via their website.