WJR: UK must commit to ‘sizeable resettlement’ scheme for Afghan refugees

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

WJR: UK must commit to ‘sizeable resettlement’ scheme for Afghan refugees

World Jewish Relief says it will try to help those fleeing Afghanistan, while JCORE urges the government to take lay down a clear plan of action

MoD handout photo of British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan being relocated to the UK, as part of Operation PITTING, the UK Armed Forces are enabling the relocation of personnel and others from Afghanistan. Issue date: Monday August 16, 2021.
MoD handout photo of British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan being relocated to the UK, as part of Operation PITTING, the UK Armed Forces are enabling the relocation of personnel and others from Afghanistan. Issue date: Monday August 16, 2021.

A leading Jewish humanitarian charity has urged Britain to “commit to a sizeable resettlement programme” of Afghan refugees fleeing the Islamist Taliban.

World Jewish Relief (WJR) made the plea after chaotic scenes in the Afghan capital of Kabul, with thousands attempting to flee – including heart-breaking footage of people clinging on to evacuating US Army planes.

In a statement, it said it is “deeply concerned by the situation in Afghanistan. We are aware of the scale of the humanitarian crisis both in the country, and in neighbouring states where displaced people have fled to.

“We do not work in Afghanistan nor in surrounding states as access and security is, unfortunately, too challenging. We will however continue to monitor the situation and, should displaced Afghans reach countries where we operate and are able to support them, we will endeavour to do so.

“In the UK we are proud of our role as the leading provider of employment services to refugees, through our Specialist Training and Employment Programme (STEP). A handful of these individuals, after graduating from STEP, are themselves working to support resettled refugees. In recent months STEP has assisted a small number of Afghan nationals who, having worked with the British military in Afghanistan, have been resettled in the UK.

“We anticipate that the number of Afghans able to relocate to the UK will increase, and we urge the Government to commit to a sizeable resettlement programme. The STEP project is ready to support these people to rebuild their lives, and we are committed to offering our expertise at a time of great turmoil.

A Hercules C-130 Plane takes off at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. British troops are racing against the clock to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country’s Western-backed government to the Taliban. Picture date: Monday August 16, 2021.

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) echoed WJR’s calls for the UK to take in Afghan refugees fleeing the crisis, saying it “views with increasing concern the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Afghanistan.  We urge our government to formulate and  announce specific plans for a comprehensive programme to assist in the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan  refugees into the UK.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl also backed calls to resettle refugees, saying: “UK Jews will share the world’s horror at the scenes unfolding in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s sickening record of the repression of women and girls, and complete disregard for human rights, fill us all with great anxiety for the Afghan people. We call on the UK Government to expand on its plans for the resettlement of Afghan refugees, to whom the world now owes a duty of care and moral responsibility.”

Across the world, other Jewish humanitarian groups offered support where possible, but have limited avenues to help after the U.S. removed its troops that had been there for nearly two decades,

HIAS, originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, wrote on Facebook that it would work to help Afghans who make it to the U.S. through a special program designed to protect people who aided the U.S. mission there. But there is little more to do at this time, it said.

“Our hearts break for the people of Afghanistan right now. Unfortunately, the current reality is that options for resettlement are limited to the Special Immigrant Visa program,” the group wrote. “We are advocating to change that.”

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the last known Jew in Afghanistan is still in the country. Zabulon Simantov, 61, stayed in Kabul to tend its last synagogue even after his wife and children moved to Israel; he said earlier this year that, anticipating danger after the U.S. withdrawal, he would move to Israel after the High Holidays next month.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: