Afghan families given shelter in North Yorkshire

An RAF flights out of Kabul. Photo: LPhot Ben Shread/British Ministry of Defence/EPA

A small number of Afghan families fleeing the Taliban have been given shelter in North Yorkshire, officials say.

So far, councils in the county have resettled eight families.

North Yorkshire is offering safe homes to Afghan workers qualifying under the Government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

Council staff say these people have supported British efforts in Afghanistan, including working as interpreters for the UK’s armed forces or by helping to implement UK government policy in other ways.

They face a serious threat to their lives from armed insurgents in Afghanistan, as NATO forces complete their withdrawal, officials say.

Separately, the Home Office is temporarily housing a number of families in a North Yorkshire coast hotel while permanent accommodation elsewhere in the UK is arranged.

North Yorkshire people have been thanked for donations of goods for Afghan families arriving in the county and have been reassured that the families are being well catered for and the support they need is in place.

North Yorkshire residents have donated clothes, toiletries and other items that charities now have more than they need, so people who wish to are being asked to show their support in a different way.

Cllr David Chance, executive member for stronger communities, said: “We saw an outpouring of donations for the Afghan families, which is unsurprising from the people of North Yorkshire, and we thank them for that.

“We now have more donations than these families need. Fortunately, they are being well-catered for through tried and tested systems established over a number of years by the county council and partners, including district and borough councils, volunteer and community groups and the Refugee Council.”

The families that have been permanently settled in the county are receiving support to help them to integrate and live independently, including English lessons, where required, school places and routes to employment that will make use of the professional skills they bring.

Cllr Chance added: “If people still want to show their support, we would encourage them instead to make a financial donation to national charities involved in refugee resettlement.”

Among others, organisations include the British Red Cross, the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, the UN Relief Agency, UNICEF, Afghanaid and Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan.

Alternatively, local employers could consider providing employment opportunities to the Afghan adults that have been permanently resettled, some of whom have higher-level education qualifications including degrees.

Migration Yorkshire has created a web page listing ways in which people, businesses and organisations can provide support:

The Government has recently announced a wider Afghan refugee scheme – the Afghan citizens’ relocation scheme – aimed at providing protection for vulnerable people fleeing Afghanistan.

Further details are awaited and a decision on commitment to that scheme within North Yorkshire is still to be made.