by Rakib Ehsan
Thursday, 23
September 2021
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07:15

Reasons to be optimistic about Afghan integration

We have learnt a lot from our European neighbours' mistakes
by Rakib Ehsan
Afghans board a plane for the UK in Kabul

How will we integrate Afghan refugees who currently fleeing to the UK from Taliban rule? We all remember the difficulties faced by countries like Germany after the 2015 refugee crisis, including bouts of violent immigrant attacks and local public services put under immense strain. To some, that remains Chancellor Angela Merkel’s biggest failure in office, and the fallout may yet be felt at this weekend’s German elections.

Britain, however, has opted for a much more sensible path — so here are five reasons why I’m optimistic about our resettlement scheme.

For one, newcomers will enrolled in an integration programme, including hundreds of hours of language lessons, civic classes and even culture passes for museums and galleries. A shared language is the glue which holds together a nation — and there is no doubting that relatively low levels of English language proficiency is a barrier to social and economic integration. This played a part in substandard integration outcomes for Britain’s Pakistani- and Bangladeshi-origin minorities (especially female first-generation migrants). We have learned from that.

Secondly, the UK is continuing to be cautious about the numbers of refugees settling the country. The numbers do not even compare to Germany’s million refugees in 2015 — we will initially welcome up to 5,000 of the most vulnerable Afghans to the UK, with a total of up to 20,000 people in the longer-term.

Thirdly, the UK is being more selective about the profile of refugees entering the country. Currently, the UK is looking to prioritise ethno-religious minorities which are most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban. This will include sheltering members of the education-oriented Hazara ethnic minority — predominantly made of Shia Muslims who have historically suffered from Sunni Islamist-led persecution in Afghanistan. Of course, given that the majority of British Afghans being Sunni Muslims of Pashtun ancestry, integration between these groups will need to be carefully managed.

Fourthly, the scheme will prioritise those who closely cooperated with British forces during the war (such as interpreters), as well as those who have a track record of championing female empowerment in post-2001 Afghanistan. It follows that a degree of ‘values alignment’ should already help to facilitate social and civic integration.

Finally, unlike many continental countries, Britain has a sound legal-protection structure — especially when compared with the militant colour-blindness contained in France’s rigidly secular universalism or the shortage of robust equality bodies in Germany. It is something which is glossed over by those who peddle rather simplistic ‘intolerant Britain versus tolerant EU’ narratives. Afghan refugees should be made aware of the religious freedoms and anti-discrimination regulations afforded under British democracy — which should foster additionally positive orientations towards their new democratic home.

All things considered, I am optimistic over Britain’s ability to successfully integrate Afghan refugees under the current resettlement plans. The UK Government has noticed what has worked in other European countries and is looking to build on this with a sensible number of refugees that will arrive over a phased period. The combination of a responsible asylum system with a thoughtful integration policy offers the best chance of a more successful immigration experience.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

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Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
9 months ago

It will not just be 20,000.

As some 8,000 are already here, there has already been a numbers-creep, and it’s only been a month!
Edited to add: And they’ve already started complaining about the time it’s taking to give them their own houses (often for families of 8) and the delay in the chain-migration they’re expecting to bring their extended families here (who will, no doubt, also expect further chain-migration).

Last edited 9 months ago by Sharon Overy
John McGibbon
John McGibbon
9 months ago

I read just earlier today about a relocated Afghan who was complaining the housing provided wasn’t close to leafy parks in a wealthy area, nor where he wanted to live in the UK.
I sense much disappointment may be around the corner, particularly for those that had their snouts in the trough of Afghan corruption.

Last edited 9 months ago by John McGibbon
Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
9 months ago
Reply to  John McGibbon

There is a Whatsapp video going around of an Afro-Caribean lady talking about her son who is a Chef. The Afghans refuse to be in the same room as him.

Madli Kleingeld
Madli Kleingeld
9 months ago
Reply to  Leon Wivlow

So much for integrations

Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
9 months ago

From Sky News:
An Afghan man was arrested in the UK for raping and killing a 13 year old girl in Austria. 13.9.21
Afghan arrested in Manchester on Terrorist charges
11.9 21
From The Times:
Afghans caught stealing nappies from supermarkets
8.9.21
And my personal favourite from Wigan Today
MP calls for Wigan Hotel to stop housing Asylum Seekers After Incident Involving School Girls (The MP is Lisa Nandy who paraded around Wigan with a sign saying ‘Refugees Welcome’ until they weren’t.)
22.9.21
Yes, it’s all going so well.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
9 months ago

“It is something which is glossed over by those who peddle rather simplistic ‘intolerant Britain versus tolerant EU’ narratives.”
In its November 2018 report, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights ranked Ireland second worst among EU states (jointly with Austria) for violence to black people. The UK was second best, after Portugal. 
Similarly, the YouGov–Cambridge Globalism survey (2020) found that 28% of Britons believed the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs, compared with 24% in Germany, 21% in France and 19% in Denmark. A further 20% of British people believed the costs and benefits were about equal, while 16% were not sure.” (Guardian).
A recent Pew study also arrived at similar conclusions, as did the much maligned 2021 report by the UK Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, yet the wokeist Left and the race relations industry persist in portraying this country as a racist, xenophobic hellhole.
No one is disputing that racism still exists in Britain, but comparatively speaking we still perform better than most other European countries, who bizarrely are held up as models for us to emulate.

Last edited 9 months ago by Eddie Johnson
Madli Kleingeld
Madli Kleingeld
9 months ago

They will not integrate.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago

They are not wanted.

D Glover
D Glover
9 months ago

 when compared with the militant colour-blindness contained in France’s rigidly secular universalism

You mean actually treating people without favour, no matter which group they belong to?

Niels Georg Bach
Niels Georg Bach
9 months ago

Danish experience tells, that they are just as difficult to handle s other muslims. Low labour participation from women. – Which as far as I know isn’t a big issue in the UK. But other nordic protestantic countries, they are expected to join the labour market. Not because of the money, they can never pay the full cost of being a member of our society. But the gain better knowledge about the society, which means a lot when raising kids.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
9 months ago

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Taliban are probably still trying to work out how they will integrate themselves back into Afghan society. A big problem for them.

David Bell
David Bell
9 months ago

I certainly hope you are right, Doctor.