Over half of Brits support resettlement scheme for Afghans fleeing Taliban: poll

Over half of Brits support resettlement scheme for Afghans fleeing Taliban: poll
2 min read
20 August, 2021
Fifty-two percent of British people support the introduction of a resettlement scheme to help Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban come to the UK, according to a YouGov poll.
Refugee charities say the scenes from Kabul airport remind us that 'nobody chooses to be a refugee' [source: Getty]

A YouGov poll has found that over half of British adults support introducing a resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban. 

Fifty-two percent of the general population are in favour of resettling Afghans in the UK, compared to 29 percent - around three in ten - who oppose resettlement and 20 percent who are unsure, according to YouGov data published on Thursday. 

Resettling Afghans is most popular with Labour voters - with 69 percent supporting it - and people who wanted to remain in the EU - with 70 percent it. 

Comparatively, Conservative voters are split over the issue, with 45 percent in favour and 40 percent opposed. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new refugee settlement program on Tuesday for Afghans fleeing the Taliban after their return to power and the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport of a mass exodus. 

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The scheme allows up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans, primarily women and children, to seek sanctuary in the UK in the next few years, with 5,000 places offered this year. 

The plan - which is similar to a refugee package for Syria in 2015 - came under immediate attack from lawmakers and activists, who said it fell short of what was required and did not come close to matching Britain's responsibility.

Aalia Khan from refugee charity Freedom from Torture said to The New Arab: “The scenes from Afghanistan show that nobody chooses to be a refugee. But we can choose to respond with compassion. This government wants us to believe that 5,000 places a year for the people is enough.

“It is a fraction of the help that can give, and people need it right now.” 

The charity is particularly concerned about UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s New Plan for Immigration, which seeks to reform the immigration system by clamping down on illegal refugees and thus, penalising people who arrive ‘irregularly’ to the UK. 

“The men, women and children who are fleeing Taliban persecution today will run straight in to Priti Patel’s new anti-refugee bill which will criminalise or turn them away,” said Khan. 

Freedom From Torture want the government to “scrap the anti-refugee bill” and have created a petition signed by nearly 50,000 people so far to urge Patel to show compassion and welcome refugees to the UK. 

YouGov polling found that around one in eight British adults  - 13 percent of the general population - believe the UK should offer resettlement to “hundreds of thousands” of Afghan refugees. 

Twenty-eight percent support the UK offering refuge to “tens of thousands” of Afghans.