The SNP has urged the Tory government to abandon its regressive Nationality and Borders Bill – in light of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The Bill – dubbed the “anti-Refugee bill” – would strip many refugees of crucial rights including the opportunity to settle in the UK permanently, to family reunion and to access public funds.
The Bill would also criminalise many of those seeking protection in the UK because of their irregular arrival here, and signals a move to warehousing asylum applicants in conditions such as the disused Napier Barracks, or even offshoring them to detention centres.
All these measures would directly impact Afghans fleeing the Taliban who seek asylum in the UK.
The Bill has been widely criticised by MPs, the UN and refugee charities, including the Scottish Refugee Council who stated that it “does not offer the humane system we need”.
The SNP has instead called on Boris Johnson to urgently introduce a generous offer of resettlement for Afghans fleeing persecution, as part of a global resettlement scheme to provide a safe passage for refugees to the UK – calling for at least 35,000 Afghan refugees to be offered asylum in the UK.
Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow Home Secretary Stuart McDonald MP (pictured) said:
“There can be no doubt that, given the current humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, the hateful, anti-refugee Nationality and Borders Bill must be scrapped immediately.
“Not only does this Tory Bill breach the UK’s obligations under Human Rights law and the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has also been widely condemned by the UN and numerous refugee charities.
“Under this Bill, if a Uighur fleeing torture; or a Syrian fleeing war crime; or a Christian convert escaping death threats arrives in the UK seeking protection, but doesn’t have a visa, they could be guilty of an offence punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
“The same will be for those fleeing persecution from the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“Scotland is ready to do our bit to support Afghan refugees.
“That is why we are urging the UK government to work with the devolved governments and urgently introduce an ambitious and generous resettlement programme which will help those who are in the greatest of needs.
“But as well as resettlement, the UK government must revisit other dreadful anti-refugee policies it has responsibility for – including this appalling Bill.
“The people of Afghanistan need our help more so now than ever before – we cannot let them down.”