Borough councils in London are continuing to pledge their support and willingness to resettle refugees from Afghanistan amid the conclusion of the 20-year war in the country.
At least 27 borough councils in London have so far said they would help support and resettle Afghan families fleeing the country as a decades-long occupation by the US, UK and other western militaries comes to an end.
The cross-party London Councils group said Tuesday (August 31) that the “majority” of London boroughs have already offered accommodation and essential local support such as counselling and school places to families in need.
As of Tuesday, 27 London boroughs indicated a willingness and ability to take “between 125 and 152 families”, London Councils said, who are arriving into the UK via the government’s Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
More offers from London boroughs are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
As of today, 27 London boroughs have indicated a willingness and ability to take families coming into the UK via ARAP according to a London Councils survey.
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— London Councils (@londoncouncils) August 31, 2021
“We have all seen videos and photos of the terrifying situation in Afghanistan right now. People who once helped UK and US Armed Forces are living in constant fear of persecution and death. This is a humanitarian crisis and we all need to do our bit to help – as individuals, as a city, and as a country,” Councillor Darren Rodwell, deputy chair of London Councils and executive member for housing and planning, said.
“Boroughs are offering to support as many families as they can while managing existing pressures and priorities. We do this standing shoulder to shoulder with councils across the country, contributing to the overall national response,” he added.
“We know many Londoners wish to do something for the scared, exhausted families coming to our city. Right now, the best way to help is to donate to your local food bank and contact your local volunteer centre.”
Among the councils pledging support in south London is Lewisham, which has special status as a place of sanctuary and offered to welcome Afghan families fleeing the violence and persecution.
“Lewisham stands ready to work with our partners to offer a place of welcome and safety for those facing an unimaginable crisis in Afghanistan. We are a Borough of Sanctuary and we are ready to help,” Lewisham Mayor Dan Egan said recently in a Twitter post.
On the other side of town, in south west London, Kingston Council have also offered their support.
Like Lewisham, the borough successfully resettled refugees from Syria fleeing civil war in that country in 2015, and has likewise pledged its commitment to help Afghan refugees now:
“In Kingston, we are committed to playing our part in providing a safe and welcoming place for vulnerable people coming to the UK. Like many other local authorities, Kingston stands ready to provide sanctuary for those fleeing the terrifying events taking place in Afghanistan, but the Government must ensure we are properly resourced to provide the safe haven and specialist support that these people need and deserve,” Council Leader Caroline Kerr said in a recent statement.
BREAKING: The last U.S. military plane has departed Afghanistan, ending the U.S.’ 20-year war in the country.
At least 47,000 Afghan civilians were killed during the war, with over 2.5 million Afghans displaced, making up the second-largest refugee population in the world. pic.twitter.com/s2IEB6BR7S
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 30, 2021
The United Nations estimates there are some 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world, of whom 2.2 million are registered in Iran and Pakistan alone.
Another 3.5 million people are meanwhile thought to be internally displaced inside Afghanistan, with many forced to flee violence since the US and UK-led invasion in 2001.