Prime Minister urged to re-settle 200 Afghan Christians facing death under the Taliban

(Photo: iStock/Everett Atlas)

The British Prime Minister must urgently make a pathway for 200 Christians in Afghanistan to flee the country four months after it was taken over by the Taliban, a human rights barrister has said.

Paul Diamond said that Christians in the country are living with a "death threat hanging over them" under the Taliban. 

The Christians he is in contact with are all converts from Islam who were unable to flee during the emergency airlift in the final days before the Taliban seized control of Kabul airport. 

Mr Diamond described desperately trying to get them on a flight out. 

He said the last few days before Western forces pulled out were so shambolic that in some cases "it was literally down to personal contacts with individual US soldiers at certain gates who would let Christians through".

There are believed to be several thousand Christians in Afghanistan, the majority of whom have been forced into hiding. Dozens are feared to have been murdered.

A Christian associate of Mr Diamond from Afghanistan who cannot be named for security reasons said that Christians were able to lead relatively normal lives under the Allied forces. Now the Taliban's strict adherence to Sharia Law has left them at risk of death. 

This is especially the case for converts from Islam, who are considered "apostates" and "traitors to the 'Islamic nation'" and therefore deserving of the death penalty.

"Therefore, all converted Christians living now in Afghanistan have a death threat over them and are desperate to leave," he said.

"Due to the shambolic and politicised draw-down date set by the US administration, things were rushed. Neither the British, nor the US Embassies were able to effectively process people of faith.

"The priority was US and British citizens, and translators. People of faith came at the end of the line – even after cats and dogs.

"For Muslims wanting to leave, Pakistan or other nearby countries are willing to host some. But for Christians, no country in the region wants them - they are simply left to die."

Mr Diamond said he feared that a "lack of understanding and willingness to engage with the very real needs of people of faith" would see Christians miss out on a place in the UK's Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

"I am in daily contact with Christians in the crisis-led country, all fearful for their lives and desperate to leave," he said.

"What we need is a special department within the UK scheme which recognises the unique needs of people of faith, acknowledges their vulnerabilities, and via the validation of NGOs, or churches, can process applications in a swift, but secure manner."

He continued, "The UK owes these Christians a duty of care because the UK Armed Forces (and Allies) held and exercised control over Afghanistan where they were able to live peacefully and practise their religion. After the withdraw, their lives are in daily danger.

"There is currently no provision in the immigration rules for them to apply to come here – so we need the UK Scheme, with a dedicated faith department announced by Christmas. Morally we cannot abandon them."