The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme formally began yesterday. The definition of resettlement is elastic: for now, the scheme is only for people “already evacuated and in the UK”. New arrivals are not yet being accepted.
Afghan resettlement minister Victoria Atkins told MPs:
… we will open two further referral pathways under the ACRS this year… From the spring, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will refer refugees in need of resettlement who have fled Afghanistan…
The third referral pathway will resettle those at risk who supported the UK and international community effort in Afghanistan, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable, such as women and girls at risk and members of minority groups. In the first year of this third referral pathway, the Government will honour our commitments and offer ACRS places to the most at risk: British Council and GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni.
The government had said all along that some ACRS places would be filled by people already evacuated by the time the scheme was announced on 18 August. Yesterday’s announcement reinforces that point, but does not tell us how many of the “up to 20,000” places will be left over for people who want to come to the UK in future.
It bears repeating that people cannot formally apply for a place on the ACRS, only be selected: “There is no application process“.
The Home Office has also announced a new committee to advise on the science of age assessments, such as it is.