LONDON: The UK’s Ministry of Defence has opened an investigation in the wake of a report by The Independent that revealed Afghan refugees had been asked to provide Taliban-approved documents for relocation to Britain.
The 37 applicants to the UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy — launched after the Taliban takeover in 2021 — were told by authorities that they needed to show documents that could only be signed by government ministries in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The MoD’s demand was “asking them (the refugees) to sign their own death warrant,” one MP said, with charities warning that Afghans had been put in danger as a result of the request.
As a result of the newspaper’s report, the ministry apologized “unreservedly” for the error after initially denying that the demands had been made to the 37 applicants.
A ministry spokesperson also told The Independent that it would now carry out an investigation, saying: “Last month, we were notified of an error in recent communications with a group of ARAP applicants, instructing them to verify documents with local authorities.
“The 37 affected applicants were notified of the error and have since responded to the correct instructions and confirmed they are currently safe.
“The MoD is now conducting a review to identify any further remedial actions needed to strengthen policies and processes.”
The newspaper’s investigation found several instances of Afghans in hiding who had been told to request documents from various Afghan ministries.
One former interpreter for British forces was told by the MoD that his marriage certificate, as well as the birth certificates of his children, needed to be validated by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He visited the Ministry of Justice to receive validation of his marriage certificate, but due to living in hiding, has been unable to communicate with the Foreign Ministry, meaning his ARAP application is unlikely to be approved by UK authorities under the current circumstances.
The MoD told another applicant regarding his children’s birth certificates: “These documents are an essential requirement and really need to be provided. They should be in English and bear the (Afghan) Ministry of Foreign Affairs seal and other necessary department stamps.”
About 4,600 Afghans still in the country are eligible for relocation to the UK under ARAP, including family members.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last week that the UK takes its obligations to former interpreters and contractors to British forces “extremely seriously.”