Afghan refugees: Council chiefs 'committed' to helping people fleeing the Taliban
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The UK Government has not yet unveiled the details of its plans to provide shelter for Afghan refugees, but today Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast it is looking at a ‘bespoke arrangement’ for those forced out of the country by fear of the Taliban.
Council leader, Adam McVey said: “Nobody can fail to be shocked and appalled by the news coming out of Afghanistan and as a city we stand ready to help in whatever way we can.
“We are in contact with the UK Government and are developing plans for how best we can offer support.
“We hope to be in a position to confirm the level of Edinburgh’s involvement very soon. We will continue to work rapidly with partners in the City to ensure that support for those fleeing for their lives is in place.”
Depute council leader, Cammy Day, said: “Edinburgh has a long and proud history of welcoming people escaping desperate circumstances such as this.
“We will engage with the UK and Scottish Governments and are committed to doing everything in our power to help those fleeing Afghanistan during this turbulent time.”
The UK Parliament is set to be recalled early from its summer recess on Wednesday to debate the situation in Afghanistan, along with plans for a resettlement scheme.
The Home Office says the UK has already admitted more than 3,300 Afghan interpreters, staff and their families for resettlement.
The Syrian resettlement scheme, which ended earlier this year, took in 20,319 people across the UK, with Edinburgh welcoming a number of these.
As of Tuesday, Canada had already pledged to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees.
The views of Edinburgh’s civic leaders were echoed by Midlothian Council, which also expects to offer homes to refugees.
Members will be asked to agree to sign up to the UK Government’s Afghan Relocation Scheme at a meeting next week.
It is anticipated at least two council houses will be initially offered to resettle refugees alongside a range of support services..
A report from executive director Kevin Anderson asks councillors to consider joining the scheme and, if agreed, give officers the power to relocate households into Midlothian and ensure support is in place.
In his report, which was written before the events of the last few days, Mr Anderson says the UK Government anticipates bringing around 3,000 Afghans here to live.
He said: “The scheme honours the service of the Afghan locally employed staff and reflects their work and the risks involved. There is now a greater fear for their safety as international troops leave the country.
“Those who qualify and choose to relocate to the UK with their families are not expected to return to Afghanistan.”
Mr Anderson says the acceleration of the arrival of the refugees does not give time to recruit private landlords and it is suggested homes are provided through the council-s own stock.
Short term funding for the scheme is available to the local authority at £10,500 per person.