Hackney leaders pledge to support Afghan refugees
- Credit: Hackney Council
Politicians in Hackney have pledged to support Afghan refugees fleeing their country after the Taliban took over following America’s withdrawal.
The pledge comes as thousands attempt to flee, including some who fear for their lives after working as interpreters for the British and American military.
The government said the UK can take 5,000 refugees from Afghanistan over the next year.
City of Sanctuary UK wants the government to commit to providing refuge for 10,000 as part of the global resettlement scheme.
Hackney Council said it was unable to provide details about the local support it will offer until it hears more about the government’s extended Afghan refugee resettlement scheme.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said: “We at the council are deeply distressed by the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and impending humanitarian crisis. Our hearts go out to the Afghan people living this terrifying new reality.”
He said Hackney has “a long-standing reputation for welcoming migrants and refugees, especially those fleeing conflict in hope of a better life, including most recently families from Syria”.
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Last January, the council said it was committed to supporting at least seven families fleeing the conflict in Syria.
Glanville added: “We are all ready to step up again, and support Afghan refugees fleeing the dangerous and chaotic circumstances in the country.
“We have begun preparing practical solutions to ensure we can participate in the government’s existing resettlement programme, which is for people who worked for the British Government and military – the pressing priority being finding suitable housing when availability is so limited.
“As with many other local authorities, we have some resourcing concerns, and have written to the government to ensure we have the appropriate levels of funding.
“We await details of the wider refugee scheme, announced earlier this week, which must offer a safe and legal route for refugees, and focus on those most at risk, including minorities and women and girls.
“We are also calling on the Home Office to engage with us and other councils so we can design together the best support possible.”
Bristol said it would resettle ten familes, whilst 80 families have already arrived in Essex. Twenty-four are now in York and Humber, where a further 10 are expected.
Dudley in the Midlands has pledged sanctuary to 10 families and Staffordshire and Stoke also plan to support 20 interpreters and their families.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Our city has a proud history of providing refuge to those seeking sanctuary and we again stand ready to help.
“I urge ministers to now step forward and give boroughs the financial support they need to resettle Afghan families and help them to establish a long-term future in our open and welcoming city.”
The Afghan Association of London urged authorities to do all they can to support those seeking sanctuary in the UK.
It said: “We welcome the news that the government will accept 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan over the next five years, however this does not go far enough.
“The government must take fast and immediate action in order to save the lives of vulnerable people, and if that means accepting more than 5,000 Afghans this year, that is what must be done.
“We ask that the government immediately abandons its inadmissibility rules and its decision to delegitimise and criminalise refugee journeys that are not undertaken through regulated resettlement routes.
“Refugees reaching our shores must have claims assessed based solely on need and never on method of flight.”