Midlothian to offer support to Afghan refugees
With the Taliban taking back control of Afghanistan at break neck speed following the withdrawal of US and UK forces, thousands of Afghans have been desperately trying to flee the country.
Midlothian councillors 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 being brought on-board to help them.
A report to councillors 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.
“The UK Government now anticipates helping a further 3,000 Afghans settle in the UK, and local housing authorities have been asked to support this effort.
“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.
He tells councillors: “In relation to the expectation on numbers of families to relocate this is entirely up to each local authority as they feel able to in terms of the number of properties they can offer.
“In Scotland there is a real spread of responses dependant on housing availability mainly.
“There are a few councils who are unable to participate, but some councils are offering two properties right through to City Councils which are offering a larger number of properties.”
Short term funding for the scheme is available to the local authority at £10,500 per person.