A number of religious leaders in the UK this weekend called for the airman to be granted asylum in the UK and urged the government not to deport him to Rwanda…reports Asian Lite News
The defense minister has refused to help a former Afghan Air Force pilot who fought alongside British forces in his home country but is now facing deportation from the UK to Rwanda.
Asked in the House of Commons about the pilot’s case, James Heappey said the man does not qualify “in principle” for Britain’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.
The pilot, whose identity has been withheld because of security fears, flew dozens of combat missions targeting the Taliban and has been described as a “patriot” by former Western coalition allies, the Independent reported.
He fled Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country when Western forces withdrew in August 2021, and eventually arrived in the UK aboard a small boat that crossed the English Channel from France. He said he only did this because there was “no other alternative way” for him to reach Britain.
He subsequently applied for asylum under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy but the government said he does not qualify because he entered the country illegally from France, which is considered a safe country, and passed through other safe countries on his way to the UK.
When asked about the case by Labour Party MPs, Heappey said his department is “looking at whether or not there are any special circumstances under which the application could be approved.”
But he added: “In principle, as a member of the Afghan national security forces, rather than somebody who worked alongside the British armed forces, (the pilot) would not automatically be in scope.”
A number of religious leaders in the UK this weekend called for the airman to be granted asylum in the UK and urged the government not to deport him to Rwanda. British authorities have signed an agreement with their counterparts in Rwanda to send asylum applicants there while they await the resolution of their cases.
The pilot has written a letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in which he pleaded with the Conservative Party leader to intervene in his case and told how he feels “forgotten” by the UK and the West.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Since 2015, we have offered a safe and legal route to the UK to almost half a million men, women and children seeking safety, including those from Hong Kong, Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as family members of refugees.”
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