Neil Coyle has hit out at the government for its “incompetent” handling of the Afghan refugee situation, which he claimed resulted in the deaths of constituents’ family members.
The MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark told the News that he had received applications from 106 constituents for help getting family members from Afghanistan to the UK, but that just six people had been successfully repatriated. Some more may be en route.
He criticised the Foreign Office and the Home Office for their “incompetence and neglect”, claiming that staff did not even open correspondence on some vital cases, which, he added, resulted in some constituents’ family members being “murdered by the Taliban”.
Coyle said: “Southwark has a global reach and it doesn’t surprise me for a second that events in Afghanistan have local ramifications. The UK Government’s humiliating capitulation to the Taliban has already affected people in Southwark and their families, often those who protected or worked for our armed forces, diplomats and charities.
“They are very fearful [of] what the Taliban will do now and we must all be mindful of the re-emergence of organisations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Daesh in Afghanistan and their global reach as we have seen internationally and at London Bridge previously.”
The government has promised to open a formal resettlement scheme for Afghans in the UK, but has failed to provide an update on when it will start. The plan was announced as the Taliban took control of the country in August, but last week Home Office minister Victoria Atkins could still not confirm when it would be ready.
The government has said it would take 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, including 5,000 in the first year.
Coyle added: “The Government is just one bad con after another but this one has contributed to lives being lost and our armed forces being put in great and avoidable danger. In normal times, Ministers would resign in shame but this is a shameless administration of utter charlatans.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We undertook the UK’s biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history, helping over 15,000 people to safety from Afghanistan who we are continuing to support.
“The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme is one of the most generous schemes in our country’s history and will give up to 20,000 further people at risk a new life in the UK.
“We continue to work at pace to open the scheme amid a complex and changing picture, working across government and with partners such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to design the scheme.”
The Foreign Office was also contacted for comment but did not respond in time for publication.
Some Afghan refugees have been settled in Southwark, with the News reporting on a Covid outbreak at one centre in September.
Meanwhile Coyle has a special surgery with Afghan people this Friday (November 23).