West News Wire: An Afghan war veteran who fought alongside NATO forces against the Taliban is under threat of deportation to Rwanda from the UK.
The unidentified former lieutenant of the Afghan Air Force crossed the English Channel in a tiny boat to get to the UK since, according to him, there were no other secure options.
He continued by saying that he and his compatriots had been “forgotten” by their allies and that he is one of many former Afghan service members who are currently facing deportation.
The pilot, who took part in more than 30 combat flights against the Taliban, is presently staying in a guesthouse for asylum seekers run by the UK Home Office. He was informed through email that his asylum application would be negatively impacted because he arrived from Afghanistan via Italy, Switzerland and France, all of which are designated safe countries.
“(You) may also be removable to Rwanda under the terms of the Migration and Economic Development Partnership between Rwanda and UK,” the email added.
The UK government, he said, should “keep the promise of friendship and cooperation that you made, and fulfil it.
“The American and British forces have forgotten us. We worked with them and we helped them like they were our brothers. We are not (Taliban), we are not ISIS (Daesh), so why are they leaving us like this?
“Every day they threaten to send us to Rwanda or our original country. I don’t know what we should do.”
Rodney Liberato, who works at the US State Department and supervised the pilot while in Afghanistan, has written to the UK government on his behalf, telling The Independent that the lieutenant is a “fine young man, a superb son, brother, husband, father, friend and a patriot for his nation” who “risked his life to support his nation’s development and coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
Another pilot from the same squadron, currently in hiding in Iran, told The Independent: “The British were part of the coalition forces and we had several mutual missions with them. Our training program was also supported by the coalition.
“I wish to come to the UK because I deserve to be there and to save my life. We, as the Afghanistan fighter pilots, played a big role in the war against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.”
Afghans currently make up the largest national cohort crossing the English Channel illegally in small boats, with over 9,000 making the journey in 2022.
There are two legal schemes for Afghans to apply to come to the UK. The largest the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme, for those who helped British forces has relocated 11,000 people.
An additional 4,300 eligible people, though, remain trapped in Afghanistan. A recent investigation showed that some had been put in danger after UK officials requested paperwork from them only obtainable from the Afghan government, currently under Taliban control.
The other legal scheme, the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, has resettled just 22 people since 2021.