An Afghan who arrived in the UK at the age of 14 after fleeing persecution has been ‘left in limbo’ due to Home Office policy blocking decisions on all asylum claims in from Afghanistan.
The 26-year-old Afghan has launched a legal action against the policy.
The blocking of decision-making on Afghan protection claims for people currently in the UK was uncovered when the man’s lawyer requested to upgrade his immigration status from the humanitarian protection he currently enjoys refugee status.
The lawyer, Jamie Bell of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, received a letter from an Home Office official stating: “Due to the events in Afghanistan right now, we have a deadlock on all Afghan cases in awaiting a policy update.
According to recently released data from the Interior Ministry, 3,213 Afghans were awaiting a decision on their claims by the end of June 2021.
The Afghan man, who has been diagnosed with PTSD, severe depression and dissociative identity disorder, told the Guardian he was devastated by the news from the bloc about a decision on his case and that of other Afghans .
“I couldn’t believe it when my lawyer told me about it. I have been here almost half of my life and consider the UK to be my home country. It is an insulting thing to do for Afghans like me who want to be safe. It gives me the impression that there is no security for human beings.
The Interior Ministry has also asked immigration court judges to stop hearing Afghan protection claims.
In a recent letter to the tribunal, Interior Ministry officials said: “The representative of the Secretary of State accepts information which clearly indicates that the Taliban have regained control of the majority of the country, including Kabul. However, what this means in terms of the risk of return for those currently seeking asylum in the UK is unclear. “
Bell said: “The customers who are affected by this are the ones who have suffered for years and are suffering even more now. My client was left in limbo.
The court challenge – a pre-action protocol – gave Priti Patel until September 2 to respond and argues that blocking decision-making on Afghan affairs is illegal because it is neither published nor announced and would expose the Home Secretary to “public condemnation” if that was widely known.
The Home Office this week released its annual immigration statistics, which found it had rejected around half of Afghan asylum claims in the year ending June 2021. Out of 1,467 Afghans who came to the UK in search of safety, 55% were granted refugee status.
Refugee Council CEO Enver Solomon called on the government to provide swift protection to Afghans seeking safety in the UK. He said Afghan cases should be speeded up.
Solomon said: “The catastrophic situation in Afghanistan is becoming more and more dangerous day by day. These incredibly vulnerable people fleeing the Taliban urgently need protection. All those who are currently awaiting a decision must now go through a simplified expedited process so that they can safely rebuild their lives in our country. “
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International UK, said: “Shockingly, the Home Office has rejected Afghan demands just as the Taliban took control of the country . The Home Secretary should focus on making the asylum system accessible, reducing delays and improving the quality of decision-making so that vulnerable people receive the protection to which they are entitled.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: “We have temporarily suspended our advice on asylum claims in the country due to the situation in Afghanistan and we are working quickly to update them according to the rapidly changing situation. In the meantime, all forced returns to Afghanistan have ceased.
“Our immediate priority is to evacuate people at risk in Afghanistan. Over the past two weeks, we have evacuated more than 13,000 vulnerable people, including 7,975 eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy and 3,920 British nationals.