Labour leaders urge more support for Afghan refugees
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Senior east London Labour Party figures have signed a statement urging the government to accelerate humanitarian assistance and relocation support for those fleeing Afghanistan.
The leaders of Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge councils, along with the mayors of Tower Hamlets and Newham, joined 21 Labour leaders from across the capital in signing the joint statement.
The government has announced a scheme to resettle up to 5,000 Afghans in the next year, but the senior Labour figures called for an acceleration of these efforts.
Their statement said: “London is a city that has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those in need.
“We have concerns for the safety of Afghan women and girls and the long-term impact on children exposed to fear, violence and uncertainty.
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“We urgently call on the government to implement a national refugee resettlement programme with target numbers from Afghanistan with proper support and funding to aid delivery, so that local authorities can plan effectively and provide sanctuary.
“We will work closely with London’s Afghan community and with our voluntary sector and national government partners to ensure Afghan refugees get the support they need to recover from the trauma they have lived through and start to rebuild their lives.”
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Among the signatories were Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council; Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham; Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Rebridge Council; and Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs.
The government’s Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme would welcome up to 5,000 Afghans to the country in its first year, and up to 20,000 in total in the long term, with priority given to women and girls, as well as religious and other minorities.
This is in addition to the 5,000 Afghans expected to relocate to the UK this year under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy.
The new route to resettlement is modelled on the scheme for Syria, which saw 20,000 Syrian refugees come to the UK over a seven-year period.
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “The UK government will always stand by those in the world in their hour of need when fleeing persecution or oppression.
“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.”