Local council 'ready to help' with Afghan refugee resettlement

Cumbria County Council say they're 'ready to help' with the 20,000 Afghans who are to be welcomed into the UK over the coming years as part of a scheme to provide sanctuary for those most at risk of persecution by the Taliban.

Fears have been building for those who have been working against the Taliban in Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul to the militants on Sunday, with increasing calls for ministers to step up to rescue those who wish to leave the country.

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit: AP

The government has promised that up to 5,000 Afghans can find refuge in the UK this year, with up to 20,000 in the longer term. It said the new route was modelled on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which resettled 20,000 Syrian refugees over a seven-year period from 2014 to 2021, which councils in the Border took part in.

In a statement, Cumbria County Council said, “Cumbria has welcomed 258 refugees since 2017 under the existing Government refugee resettlement schemes, including four families from Afghanistan earlier this summer.

"Under these schemes the county has already collectively pledged to resettle a further 137. With the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, Government has indicated it will be considering a new resettlement scheme to meet the needs of people now fleeing the country, we await further details but stand ready to help.” 

Neither Dumfries & Galloway nor Scottish Borders Council have set out their position yet, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says that Scotland is prepared to "play its full part."

She said today that the UK government's commitments to Afghan refugees are 'woefully inadequate' - and called on them to increase the numbers. 

Hundreds of people gather near a US Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan Credit: Shekib Rahmani/AP

In an emergency address to the commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that 2,052 Afghan nationals have been evacuated so far to the UK.

Priority will be given to women and girls, and religious and other minorities.

Ms Patel said: “I want to ensure that as a nation we do everything possible to provide support to the most vulnerable fleeing Afghanistan so they can start a new life in safety in the UK, away from the tyranny and oppression they now face”.

Ministers said they would keep the scheme under review in coming years, and would work with devolved nations and local councils to deliver support for those fleeing to the UK.

British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan being relocated to the UK Credit: MoD