Afghan refugee housed by UK ‘in error’ faces deportation from Pakistan

Afghan refugee housed by UK ‘in error’ faces deportation from Pakistan
Afghan refugee housed by UK ‘in error’ faces deportation from Pakistan

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: An Afghan refugee who was housed by the UK in Pakistan for 18 months “in error” is facing deportation back to Afghanistan, The Independent reported on Wednesday.

After fleeing Taliban-ruled Kabul based on a promise of being resettled in Britain, Mohammad Zaker Nasery spent more than a year living in a hotel in Pakistan funded by the British government.

But despite having a UK visa approved, Nasery, a father of four, was deemed ineligible for Britain’s resettlement scheme for Afghans, and was given two weeks’ notice to leave his accommodation.

He now faces homelessness in Pakistan or deportation back to Afghanistan after being informed that his accommodation support was given “in error.”

Nasery said: “I have been given 14 days to leave the hotel, find my own funds and accommodation, and update my visa. Currently I don’t have money to rent a house or feed my family. I am in a stressed and frustrated situation.”

He lived in the hotel for almost two years, along with his wife and four children, who had later joined him.

Nasery had crossed into Pakistan with the help of a British High Commission official after working as a contractor between 2019 and 2021 on a British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office scheme for women and girls in Afghanistan.

More than 30 Afghan families also living in the hotel sent a letter of support for Nasery to the British High Commission, demanding that his eviction be canceled.

Nasery’s UK visa was approved by the Home Office in May 2022, but was subsequently canceled on the basis that Afghan families can only receive approval after being deemed eligible for resettlement schemes.

His application for the UK’s Afghan relocations and assistance policy was turned down at the beginning of 2023, and despite a review of the decision, UK authorities claimed he had not worked alongside a British government department or contributed to UK military objectives.

An eviction letter by the British High Commission said: “While in third countries, the UK government may provide discretional support including accommodation to applicants who have been assessed as eligible for relocation to the UK under Arap. In error, this support was provided for you.”

Labour Party MP Mary Foy, who had supported Nasery’s case, described the eviction as part of a “shameful saga of government failures.”

She said: “Since Mr. Nasery’s case was brought to my attention by a constituent over a year ago, the government’s responses to his case have been slow, uncoordinated, and contradictory. All the while, he and his family have been abandoned to an uncertain future.”

A British government spokesperson said: “The UK has made an ambitious and generous commitment to help at-risk people in Afghanistan and, so far, we have brought around 24,600 people to safety, including thousands of people eligible for our Afghan schemes.”

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