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‘Huge relief’ as loans scrapped for forced marriage victims

Campaigners tell Sky News a “massive burden” has been lifted, after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt intervenes.

Victims of forced marriages brought back to the UK will no longer be asked to take out a loan to repay the cost of their rescue.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the charge would be scrapped immediately after outrage from MPs and charities when it was exposed.

Victims returning home were previously required to pay for their plane tickets, basic food and shelter – or take out a loan with the Foreign Office.

One was billed £814 to be repatriated to the UK from life in a forced marriage in Islamabad, Pakistan, and had to give up her passport until the fee was paid.

The revelation, first reported by The Times, prompted a fierce backlash.

One MP likened it to the Windrush scandal, while another branded it part of a “cruel system of bureaucracy”.

Mr Hunt, writing to the foreign affairs select committee, said forced marriage victims would now be treated as “exceptionally vulnerable people”.

“From now on, none of those who are assisted by the forced marriage unit, and would previously have been offered a loan, will have to cover the costs of their repatriation,” said the foreign secretary.

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