In a joint initiative between the British authorities and Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, plans have been unveiled to transport a specific number of Afghan refugees to London via special flights as part of the UK’s ‘resettlement scheme.’
This collaborative decision came to fruition following a meeting between a delegation from the British High Commission and high-ranking officials from the Civil Aviation Authority in Karachi, where they assessed the feasibility of transferring Afghan nationals to the UK, as reported by Express News.
Collaboration between CAA and the British Authorities
The Pakistani civil aviation delegation, led by Air Commodore (retd) Shahid Qadir, and the British High Commission’s delegation, led by its political counsellor, engaged in discussions related to the settlement of Afghan refugees to London in the UK and the operation of special flights for their transportation.
The outcome of this meeting resulted in an agreement to launch 12 special flights, commencing from the next week and continuing until the end of December, to facilitate the transfer of a specific number of Afghan refugees to the United Kingdom.
A special message from Director General Civil Aviation Khaqan Murtaza to the British High Commission’s delegation was conveyed by the Pakistani team, which included representatives from the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and Customs. The British delegation expressed its appreciation for the collaboration of Pakistani institutions and their willingness to operate these special flights.
Plans on Moving Afghan Refugees to London
The Civil Aviation Authority has released a schedule outlining the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the UK through these 12 special charter flights, with the capacity to accommodate approximately 2,000 Afghan individuals. These charter flight operations will extend throughout December, with a weekly flight departing for the UK.
The inaugural flight is scheduled to depart from Islamabad to the United Kingdom on Thursday, October 26, carrying 200 Afghan refugees. Special arrangements have been put in place at Islamabad Airport to facilitate this operation.
It’s worth noting that Pakistan has set a November 1 deadline for all legal immigrants to leave the country. This decision has raised concerns among various human rights organizations and the United Nations, which have called on Islamabad to reconsider its stance in line with its obligation to uphold the “non-derogable principle of non-refoulement.”
In contrast to previous government policies, UK ministers have assured that Afghans eligible for the UK’s resettlement policy will not be required to wait for housing verification before traveling to Britain, as reported by The Independent.
The situation of Afghan nationals who previously served alongside coalition forces in Kabul, battling against the Afghan Taliban, led to their quest for safety in Britain. However, due to the UK government’s decision not to charter aircraft and its insistence that refugees secure their own housing in the UK, these specific Afghans found themselves in a state of limbo, residing in Pakistani hotels after fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan when the Taliban took control of Kabul in August 2021.
With the expiration of their visas, Pakistani authorities took action, including detaining many Afghans whose visas had lapsed. Subsequently, they were released following intervention by the British High Commission.