South Shields man with family stuck in Afghanistan heard Government staff laughing over 'scam' of 'false hope' - MP raises shocking case in Parliament

A man in South Shields with family stuck in Afghanistan overheard Government employees describe the resettlement programme as "a scam" which "gives false hope to people" – and laughing – Parliament has heard.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 1:13 pm
Hundreds of people gathering near an evacuation control checkpoint on the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August. Not everyone entitled to resettlement made it out of the country in time (AP Photo/Wali Sabawoon, File)

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck raised the shocking case in Parliament, prompting gasps from fellow MPs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would look into the case.

"My constituent spent hours waiting to get through to someone on the Government-issued number for non-British nationals in Afghanistan,” she said.

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South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

"Distressed and fearful for his family, he was relieved when he eventually spoke to someone, however when they thought my constituent had hung up he overheard them laughing and say to a colleague 'We are having to lie to people, we are giving them false hope, the whole thing is an entire scam'.

"Is it the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister who is responsible for this scam?"

There were gasps from MPs across the House as the Labour MP shared the story.

Boris Johnson replied: "I think the whole country should be proud of what we have done to welcome people from Afghanistan. Operation Warm Welcome continues and, as I speak to you, we have already received more than 15,000 people from the Kabul airlift, the biggest exercise this country has undertaken.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 8, 2021. See PA story POLITICS PMQs. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/PA Wire

"I am sorry to hear about the particular case that she raises. Can I ask her to send it directly to me and I will take it up?"

She spoke then of her disgust at “extremely poor” and “exasperating” communication, including claiming one of the phone lines given by the Home Office was actually the a phone number for a washing machine repair company in London.

“It’s unconscionable. These are people’s lives and people’s families at stake,” she said.

South Tyneside Council said it had agreed to house five evacuee families from Afghanistan as part of a resettlement programme after the stricken national fell to the Taliban within weeks of international troops withdrawing.

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