What Exactly Should the United Kingdom do with Afghan refugees? | Jakub Zietek

In the wake of the United Kingdom’s exit from Afghanistan, our country is faced with a crisis on a scale not seen for decades. Twenty years ago, in 2001, Tony Blair led the UK into Afghanistan with the goal of eliminating Osama bin Laden, who was behind the 11th of September terrorist attacks. Even though these attacks occurred on US soil, as the closest ally of the US and for the protection of our national security, we became involved in November of 2001 when we deployed ground troops.

This turned into a twenty-year conflict, and judging by the length of this mission, one would think that a lot was achieved by our forces during the mission that thousands went overseas to take part in. In reality, bin Laden was found and shot dead by Navy SEALS in Pakistan, and now the Taliban is back in power.

Those whom I feel most sorry for are the soldiers who have lost so much in this conflict. Even those who made it out alive, have lost limbs, or have stains of brutal conflict on their minds that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. And those are the lucky ones which have made it out of the battlefield back home. 457 British troops have died serving their country overseas in a war which should not have been started in the first place.

And now, in the aftermath of US and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan in such a short space of time, western leaders are faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, we are the ones that have started this war, and should bear the consequences of the decisions taken in Number Ten Downing Street. But on the other, we cannot overlook the severe security risk that is created by bringing over tens of thousands of people from a region where the phrase “Death to the West” is about as common a saying as “The weather’s bad today” on a November morning in Yorkshire. If the Government is to accept refugees, it is vital that it does so with extreme caution and thorough security checks, prioritising the families of those which have served alongside British troops.

But the other issue, as important as the former, is the number of people that we should be taking in. Within Britain’s borders there is limited space for people we can accept from overseas and with an ever-growing population, that capacity to assist families fleeing regimes from overseas is constantly decreasing. There have already been reports of a shortage of family homes to house Afghan families coming here:

If there is a shortage of large family homes to house Afghan families being brought over to the UK, then families already living in Britain are going to be put at an even bigger disadvantage than they already have been as a result of massively inflated house prices and limited housing stock.

It is at this very moment that the Conservative Government has to choose who they will prioritise and provide for and who will be forgotten in the turmoil. Will it be the Afghan families fleeing the Taliban or will it be British families who, despite living in one of the richest and most successful nations in the world, live in poverty and are in desperate need of state support? The cards are on the table, and the time has come for the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to pick what they will stand for.

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