Britain to transport 2,000 Afghan refugees from Pakistan via special flights - GulfToday

Britain to transport 2,000 Afghan refugees from Pakistan via special flights


An Afghan refugee family living in Pakistan arrives outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees repatriation centre, some 25km from Peshawar on Thursday. AFP

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

In a cooperative effort with Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the British authorities have announced plans to transport a specific number of Afghan nationals from Pakistan to London via special flights under their resettlement scheme.

In different capacities, nearly 2000 Afghan nationals had helped American and Nato forces during their occupation of Afghanistan. They had been evacuated from their country when the Taliban had regained Afghanistan.

The decision to transport them to London was reached during a meeting between a delegation from the British High Commission and top officials of the CAA to assess the feasibility of transferring Afghan nationals to the UK.

The CAA delegation, led by Air Commodore (retd) Shahid Qadir, and the British High Commission's delegation, led by its political counselor, discussed the issue of settling Afghan refugees in the UK and the operation of special flights for their transfer.

They agreed to operate 12 flights starting from the next week until the end of December to transport a certain number of Afghan refugees to the UK.


A special message from CAA chief Khaqan Murtaza to the British High Commission’s delegation was delivered by the Pakistani delegation, which included representatives from the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Customs.

The British delegation expressed gratitude for the cooperation of Pakistani institutions and their willingness to operate these special flights.

The CAA has released a schedule outlining the evacuation of Afghan refugees for settlement in the UK through 12 special charter flights, accommodating approximately 2,000 Afghans. These chartered flight operations will continue until December, with a weekly flight departing for the UK.

The first of these flights, carrying 200 Afghan refugees, is set to depart from Islamabad to the United Kingdom on October 26, with special arrangements made at Islamabad Airport for this purpose.

Pakistan has set a Nov.1 deadline for all legal immigrants to exit the country, a decision that has raised concerns among various human rights organisations and the United Nations.

In contrast to previous government policy, the British ministers have promised that Afghans eligible for the UK's resettlement policy will not have to wait for housing verification before traveling to Britain.

The situation of Afghan nationals who previously served alongside coalition forces in Kabul, fighting against the Afghan Taliban, had led to them seeking safety in Britain. However, due to the UK government's decision not to charter aircraft and its insistence that refugees secure their own housing in the UK, these specific Afghans found themselves in a state of limbo, residing in Pakistani hotels after fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan when the Taliban took control of Kabul in August 2021.

Their visas had also expired, prompting action by Pakistani authorities, which included detaining many Afghans whose visas had lapsed. They were ultimately freed following intervention by the British High Commission.

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