Councils make plans to help resettle Afghan refugees

Hull has a “moral duty” to resettle Afghan refugees who helped British Armed Forces during the conflict there, the city’s council leader has said.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 3:02 pm
A spokesperson for East Riding Council said the authority was currently coordinating with others in the region through Migration Yorkshire.

Cllr Daren Hale, leader of Hull City Council, said the authority stood ready to “do its bit” following the fall of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul to the Taliban.

The leader added it would look to house new arrivals rather than putting them up in hotels and called on other councils to take their “fair share”.

A spokesperson for East Riding Council said the authority was currently coordinating with others in the region through Migration Yorkshire.

They added they were awaiting guidance from the Government as to what form a new resettlement scheme would take.

The comments come after the Taliban’s conquest of Kabul effectively brought an end to the two decade Afghanistan War, launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

That and the toppling of the western-backed Afghani government came after US President Joe Biden previously announced troops would be withdrawn ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The Home Office has since announced plans for a “bespoke” plan to take 5,000 Afghan refugees thought to be at risk following the Taliban’s seizing of power.

The government department added in a statement it would look to take 20,000 refugees in total in the long term.

Cllr Hale said a small number of families who helped British armed forces during the conflict had already been taken in under the existing Afghan Relocation Scheme.

The council leader said: “In some ways we are ahead of the game and we’ve already been doing our bit to help them, we believe we have a moral duty to do so.

“That was before the fall of Kabul and Afghanistan to the Taliban.

“We now want to see what the figures will look like as part of a resettlement scheme, we’ve been asked by the Local Government Association (LGA) for views on this.

“We would want any future asylum seekers or refugees to be housed, we wouldn’t support putting them into hotels.

“As Hull is a City of Sanctuary, we responded to early enquiries about this and we’ve said we’ll do our bit.

“This has to be seen in the round, our city has supported a number of both children and adult asylum seekers and refugees from several countries.

“The situation in Afghanistan is very serious, but so is the situation in other countries where asylum seekers and refugees have come from.

“The difference is that in Afghanistan there is an ongoing war situation.

“We’ve helped in a number of settlement schemes and this one will be no different.

“Other local authorities also need to play their part, some haven’t taken their fair share of asylum seekers in the past.”

An East Riding Council spokesperson said: “To date, we have taken one family under the current Afghan Relocation Scheme.

“We are awaiting further guidance from central Government on additional measures to support Afghan refugees.

“As part of this, the council is working alongside all other local authorities in the region through a programme coordinated by Migration Yorkshire.”

Article by Joe Gerrard (Local Democracy Reporting Service)