Two years of empty promises: the UK leaves Afghans stranded and at risk

We’re proud to launch our new report “Two years of empty promises: the UK leaves Afghans stranded and at risk”.

The report has been developed by the Afghan Pro Bono Initiative, a joint project between RLS and Safe Passage International.

It shines a light on the challenges that people from Afghanistan have faced in accessing resettlement schemes in the UK.

These challenges have left people in limbo. Two whole years after fleeing persecution at home with the promise of help in the UK, many Afghans remain in serious danger.

Many Afghans feel betrayed by the broken promises of protection from the UK authorities.

The new report is informed by the voices of people from the Afghan community and our expertise and experience from delivering one of the very few projects specialised in legal support for people from Afghanistan.

It outlines the challenges that people from Afghanistan face in accessing resettlement and makes recommendations to support the UK government to make the changes needed to fulfil their promises.

Throughout the report, you’ll find photography that shows the Afghan people, culture and the beauty of the country.

Key recommendations from the report

The report calls on the UK government:

  • To ensure the timely processing of applications: delays and slow decision making are leaving people in dangerous situations and separated from loved ones
  • To provide safe and secure biometric enrolment: people are currently being forced to take huge risks to collect and submit the evidence that the UK requires
  • To expand concessions on document flexibility: people who have fled their homes and are in hiding will struggle to gather all of their official documents. The UK’s schemes should be sympathetic to this
  • To expand the scope for family reunion: this is currently needlessly restrictive. The presence of loved ones is one of the most important factors in determining how well people settle into their new communities
  • To broaden the eligibility of ACRS, one of the government’s schemes: an arbitrary cap on the scheme has excluded a large number of eligible individuals. It also doesn’t currently include a number of vulnerable groups, for example LGBT individuals and the Hazaras.

Mariana D’Arcadia, APBI Project Coordinator said:

People fleeing Afghanistan have often faced enormous trauma and hardship. Many remain in danger. The resilience and bravery that they’ve shown in getting to the point where they can apply to be resettled in the UK is enormous. The last thing they expect at this point is to be stopped by the UK’s red tape.” They believed that the UK government’s promises of protection were made in good faith. With a few small changes, the government can ensure that people get the safety they were offered.

Case study

Mariana explained: “our clients were undocumented, unaccompanied refugee children surviving alone in Pakistan. They’d suffered kidnap and torture. Their only living relative was in the UK, and they were applying to be reunited. The Home Office did not consider these to be ‘serious and compelling circumstances’. They stated in the refusal that their situation was “no different to other Afghanistan nationals in Pakistan”.


Notes to editors:

About the Afghan Pro Bono Initiative The Afghan Pro Bono Initiative is a collaboration between RLS, Safe Passage International and 14 leading law firms. The initiative supports people fleeing Afghanistan to be resettled in the UK through family reunion and by accessing the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). The project includes a strong community engagement and research element, building links to Afghan community groups.

About RLS (Refugee Legal Support)

RLS is a team of frontline asylum lawyers who assist displaced people with vital legal advice and support. We run projects in the UK, Greece and Northern France and specialise in asylum claims in Greece, family reunion in the UK and EU and helping people fleeing Afghanistan access safe routes to the UK. For media enquiries, please contact Nick at

About Safe Passage International Safe Passage International’s legal teams in France, Greece and the UK help child refugees reunite with their families through a safe route to a place where they can rebuild their lives. We specialise in providing free advice and legal representation to unaccompanied refugee children and separated. We also campaign for change and the opening of safe routes for refugees, so no one has to take a dangerous journey to reach protection. For media enquiries, please contact Claude at

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