Afghan Refugee Resettlement Programme
Last week Ashford Borough Council announced it is increasing our efforts to meet the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan by offering to re-home more Afghan nationals who have been assisting our Government and Armed Forces.
Further information is available below on how the scheme will work.
Frequently Asked Questions
+ What is the background to this situation?
+ What have we been asked to do?
+ Why does the council need to get involved?
+ How many refugees will the council accept?
+ Is this number higher than other local authority areas are proposing to accept?
+ There are reports that many more Afghans are likely to be temporarily accommodated at hotels in Kent – is Ashford involved?
+ Did Ashford also accept Syrian refugees a few years ago?
+ Will all the people be arriving at the same time?
+ What will the council be required to do?
+ What will it mean for the areas in which these families are placed?
+ Where will Ashford house the refugees?
Just as the council did with the Syrian refugees, the decision has been taken that no social (‘council’) housing will be used to accommodate the Afghans, ensuring that they are not seen as “jumping the queue” when it comes to council housing.
Refugee families are in private sector accommodation, provided by charitable landlords, private landlords and via the council’s lettings agency. The authority is currently reviewing what accommodation is available to the Afghan families and has issued an appeal to private sector landlords to step forward to assist with the process. In return the council will support the families and work alongside landlords to help those assisted to integrate into our community.
Private sector landlords interested in working with Ashford Borough Council to resettle Afghan families should contact Anne Forbes BEM, Refugee Resettlement Programme Project Co-ordinator, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Will it put a strain on council resources and other services in our local areas?
The UK government has undertaken to reimburse the financial costs to local authorities participating in this scheme during the first year. This is coming from the foreign aid budget and the commitment will assist in the support of the council’s arrangements to house and integrate these families.
As we did with our highly successful Syrian programme, we are working very closely with our partners at Kent County Council (KCC) and in the National Health Service (NHS) to ensure that we only place refugee families into communities where there are school places available or where there is capacity at doctors’ surgeries, for example. We will also be ensuring that the needs of each family are catered for through the provision of specific support from partners in the voluntary sector too.
+ What will it mean for people on the housing waiting list?
+ When will the first refugees be coming?
+ Where are these people coming from?
The Afghan people who are being airlifted by our Armed Forces to the UK as part of this Government-organised relocation scheme are coming direct from Kabul, not from Calais or anywhere else – this is part of the national scheme that we are linked into and we are working with the Home office at all times.
The people who are going to be placed in our borough will have been screened by the Home Office before they are transported to the UK and we will know all about them before they arrive – in terms of their ability to speak English, whether they have children so that we can liaise with relevant organisations to get them the support they need.
These refugees may have been exposed to severe trauma in their own country and so may have specific issues and vulnerabilities that they need proper assistance with when they arrive here. Again, we will link up with relevant organisations and healthcare providers to ensure that they receive the assistance they will need.
+ Is there a risk the Afghan families will spread COVID-19 in Ashford?
+ We’re concerned about security following the tone of some national newspaper articles?
+ How is the council planning to resource this?
+ Will the council be managing this on its own?
No, we have really close links with organisations at KCC and the NHS as education and healthcare providers, and in the voluntary sector so that we can link the families into the appropriate support for them. We will only be leading and co-ordinating the local response.
We are drawing upon our considerable experience of welcoming vulnerable Syrian families to our borough and integrating them into our communities. We have held meetings with the Home office representatives as we prepare to welcome and support these vulnerable families from Afghanistan.
+ What will the council be providing for these families?
+ I have an additional question that is not addressed here?
Please email email@example.com and we will respond to you.