Afghan refugees: Cambridgeshire councils ready and waiting for Home Office to allocate families in area
As the world watches the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, Afghan refugees learn about the life that awaits them in their adopted countries.
Afghan refugees began arriving in the UK after emergency flights left Kabul in the last days of British and US military occupation in late August.
After the Taliban took over the country amid the withdrawal of NATO troops, Afghan families began to flee in droves, fearing for their lives.
Read more: The town of Cambridgeshire which bought a house from a Syrian refugee family
For the 8,000 refugees who arrived in the UK, they were received by being temporarily accommodated in hotels in different parts of the country, including Gloucestershire, Southend and Lincolnshire.
Although the UK government requires hotel quarantines for 10 days when they fly from Red List countries, including Afghanistan, to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus, some have been left under quarantine conditions hotels for more than double the quarantine time required.
However, properties are already available waiting to welcome Afghan refugees in Cambridgeshire county, as councils wait for the Home Office to allocate families in the area.
According to the six councils that make up the region, none have yet arrived in the county. This is part of the national resettlement program for 20,000 Afghan refugees over five years.
Even before the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan in August, parts of Cambridgeshire were preparing to welcome Afghan families who had assisted the British military during their 20-year operation there.
Peterborough City Council announced in July that it was one of many local authorities across the country participating in a government-run program to relocate Afghan nationals who have served in the British military.
The council pledged to resettle 100 Afghan refugees and to have social housing awaiting filling from the Interior Ministry’s list of waiting families. The council expects the first two families to arrive in October. The council is also always on the lookout for private landlords to suggest suitable properties which are now available to house other refugees under the program.
The resettlement program consists of covering the first year of rent for families. Contact us and find more ways to support Peterborough families here.
Elsewhere in Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City Council are each deploying a joint response by sheltering three Afghan families. The families have not yet arrived, but three non-communal properties have been pledged in each communal district and are awaiting their arrival. Counselors say they may be able to accommodate other families after the initial six families have settled in, if funding and housing become available.
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In Huntingdonshire, the council is identifying housing that might be suitable for Afghan families. A spokesperson for the Huntingdonshire District Council said: “The government is completing needs assessments with families at hotels and they will then match the accommodation and support offers that families need.
“The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government has told us that we will find out more about the possible families they identify over the next two weeks.”
Fenland District Council is hosting two Afghan homes under the Afghanistan Assistance and Resettlement Policy (PFRA), although a spokesperson has hinted that they have yet to arrive in the area: “When in Fenland, we will be working with partner agencies to provide ongoing support to households as they begin their new lives in the UK. The government is providing financial assistance to help fund this.
“In addition to the PFRA program, the government has announced a larger additional program – the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Program – for other vulnerable Afghans who have been forced to flee the country. We received advice from the government on this on September 13th. and we are now looking at the program and what the Council can do to support it. “
East Cambridgeshire Council is currently unable to comment on the status of incoming refugees to the region due to the upcoming local election period in purdah.
In the meantime, local residents are preparing by offering spare rooms through Refugees at Home and Rooms for Refugees, donating items and money, while councils have prepared lists of ways in which residents can help before and after families arrive.
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