Sturgeon writes to PM calling for more action on Afghan refugee resettlement

Nicola Sturgeon has written to Boris Johnson, calling for the UK Government to agree to resettle more Afghan refugees.

The First Minister said the UK’s commitment to rehouse 20,000 Afghan refugees in the coming years did not go far enough.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was “committed to playing our part in welcoming and supporting people fleeing Afghanistan”.

She said she welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent announcement for a refugee resettlement programme in addition to existing commitments.

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Nicola Sturgeon has written to the Prime Minister (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Sturgeon said: “While recognising the pressures on accommodation capacity, we are concerned that the commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees in ‘the long term’ and just 5,000 in the first year is not sufficient in the context of the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding.

“We believe a commitment to a substantial increase in numbers is required and urgently seek further details of how civilians, especially women, girls and others in need of refuge will be protected.”

She continued: “During the Westminster debate on Wednesday 18 August you indicated agreement to a summit with devolved nations.

“I would be grateful for more detail on plans for this.”

On Monday, Ms Sturgeon said Nato countries should avoid a “cut-and-run operation” in Afghanistan, as thousands seek to flee the Taliban takeover at Kabul’s airport.

A deadline of August 31 has been agreed with the Taliban for western forces to leave.

Following Tuesday’s G7 meeting, the Prime Minister said the “number one condition” for international recognition of the Taliban was the guarantee of safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan “through August 31 and beyond”.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We have announced one of the most generous schemes in our country’s history which will give up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghan people a new life in the UK.

“The Prime Minister wrote to the First Minister last week to express gratitude for Scotland’s assistance with arrivals on existing resettlement programmes and to ensure continued close working on efforts to resettle Afghan refugees.

“In its first year, the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will welcome up to 5,000 Afghans. This is in addition to our commitment to resettle Afghans who have worked with the UK over the past 20 years.

“We’re also clear we cannot do this alone, and we are calling on international partners to make their own generous humanitarian commitments to help the people of Afghanistan.”