Refugees and Kirklees Council, part 2

Last week I wrote an open letter to Kirklees Metropolitan Council about receiving Afghan refugees and referred to the Huddersfield area’s long and good history in accepting refugees, linking to the blog post on social media.

I got a reply on Twitter. Well it was a link to the latest update from the council.

Afghan people wanting to escape the Taliban. Picture from BBC

As the reply was on public media I will take the opportunity to copy it here:

There are two different programmes to support people coming from Afghanistan:

  1. The ongoing Afghan Relocation Scheme which Kirklees is signed up to. This is a scheme to move people out of Afghanistan who worked alongside the armed forces and their lives are seen to be at serious risk. The council is already supporting people through this scheme.
  2. The Afghan Resettlement Programme, announced this week, is the plan to bring in 20,000 people to the UK in response to the current situation – but the details of this are not yet confirmed.

There are two different programmes to support people coming from Afghanistan:

  1. The ongoing Afghan Relocation Scheme which Kirklees is signed up to. This is a scheme to move people out of Afghanistan who worked alongside the armed forces and their lives are seen to be at serious risk. The council is already supporting people through this scheme.
  2. The Afghan Resettlement Programme, announced this week, is the plan to bring in 20,000 people to the UK in response to the current situation – but the details of this are not yet confirmed.

There is also a statement from Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, read it here:

My reply to that:

I was surprised that no mention was made that Kirklees is signed up to the City of Sanctuary project, other than mentionning the Sanctuary Clothing Project. Why not? It is relevant to the question.

I was also surprised that the council statement, particularly that by Councillor Pandor who says, “Kirklees has a really proud record when it comes to supporting others,” in that the only commitment is to housing those allocated to us by the Home Office? Why not more? BBC Look North mentioned this week that the north of England is better than the south at settling refugees, so there is a slack to be taken up from those racist areas which will not take their share. Plus what about those who find another way out other than the official airlifts. When this is published,unless things change, the airlifting of civilians by UK armed forces will have ended with only the forces who were involved in the airlift will need airlifting out.

The Independent shows that Afghan asylum seekers are already arriving in the UK by unauthorised routes. I remind people not to believe the lies of the right wing press that people who enter the county in this was are illegal, seeking asylum is legal, the UK, no longer in the EU is no longer bound by the Dublin Agreement that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first safe EU country they enter, but is now under a UN treaty whereby refugees can travel through any numbet of countries to seek asylum in a country where they have relatives.

I hope that Kirklees Metropolitan Council will consider going above and beyond the Home Office minimum and house Afghan asylum seekers no matter what route they have used to arrive in the UK. The very least we should be doing is housing the relatives of those who have come by authorised routes. I hope it will end up larger tan the minimum.

If you want to help here is a list of ways from Kirklees Council:

Help Kirklees Council will offer those who come to Kirklees

  • Council staff from Housing Solutions and in the International New Arrivals team will meet and support the family intensively from arrival and support with all immediate needs including; health, understanding life in the UK and Kirklees and children starting school
  • Sanctuary Clothing Project providing clothes, footwear if needed
  • Partnership Welcome Sessions at community venues
  • Welcome Mentors – volunteers who speak a range of community languages and know exactly what it is like to be a new arrival into Kirklees and provide befriending and buddying support
  • English language support by the This Way for English Programme
  • Sports and physical activities will be on offer
  • Local groups and organisations offering to be a place of welcome

 How you can help 

Other ways you can help:

Ways to Welcome People Seeking Sanctuary (Sanctuary Kirklees)

How you can speak out against the Government’s immigration and asylum proposals — the deadline was May 2021, but it is worth a read.

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