'Not enough' Dianne Abbott blasts UK plan to welcome 5000 Afghans
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Labour MP Diane Abbott has ripped into the UK Government’s plans to evacuate Afghans fleeing the Taliban. She said the figure mentioned so far – 5,000 by the end of the year – “was simply not enough”. Speaking to BBC Any Questions, Ms Abbott said that Britain “had a moral responsibility” to take in more Afghans.
This comes amid a desperate scene in Kabul as civilians try to escape the Taliban, who took over the country last week.
On Tuesday, Britain announced plans to welcome up to 5,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban during the first year of a new resettlement programme that will prioritise women, girls and religious and other minorities.
This is in addition to plans to relocate 5,000 people as part of an Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, designed to help present and past employees of the UK Government.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I want to ensure that as a nation we do everything possible to provide support to the most vulnerable fleeing Afghanistan so they can start a new life in safety in the UK. The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will save lives.”
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In the long term, Ms Patel said the programme aims to assist up to 20,000 people.
Responding to this, the editor of the Spectator Fraser Nelson told the BBC: “The Government has mentioned 20,000. I don’t think that’s a particularly high figure.
“There is more we can do. Right now there are 2.5 million displaced people, so taking 20,000 is not very much. I really hope the UK will discharge the many promises we made.”
Ms Abbott echoed this, adding: “Are we doing enough? No, we are not.
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“We must take some responsibility for the chaos Afghanistan is in now.
“I have to say one person who didn’t do enough was Dominic Raab who would not break into his holiday to spend an hour on the phone with his Afghan counterpart to try and save the very brave translators for our forces. He has not done enough.
“On our promises in relation to refugees, I agree with what Fraser said.”
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She added: “The numbers the Government has mentioned so far are not sufficient. Again, because we have to take some moral responsibility for the way things are in Afghanistan.
“We need to make more substantial promises to take Afghan refugees. We should be taking more than 5,000.
“There are people who acted as translators, who worked for charities and aid organisations – 5,000 is not enough. We are not doing enough. We should do more.”
After 20 years of a British military presence there, Boris Johnson said he intends to stick by Afghanistan and its people.
He said: “The UK’s commitment to Afghanistan is lasting and our plan to help people with the resettlement programme will run for a good while to come.”
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