HC Deb 17 May 2004 vol 421 c759W
Joan Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the return of refugee women and children to Afghanistan from the UK. [170305]

Mr. Browne

The Government's preferred option for repatriating Afghan asylum applicants whose asylum claims have been rejected and appeal rights exhausted is assisted voluntary return, in line with the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on Voluntary Return between the UK, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Transitional Administration. When the Memorandum of Understanding was signed we agreed that we would not return family groups to Afghanistan before the summer of 2003. Although this general policy bar on enforcing the removal of families no longer applies, we are still not enforcing the departure of vulnerable groups, such as families with young children, or female heads of household.