‘We owe it to them’ says council leader

North Kesteven is among the Lincolnshire councils looking at what it can do to help 
refugees fleeing from 
Afghanistan following the takeover by the Taliban.

FACES BLURRED AT SOURCE Ministry of Defence undated handout photo of British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan getting on a RAF plane before being relocated to the UK. British troops are racing against the clock to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country's Western-backed government to the Taliban. Issue date: Tuesday August 17, 2021.

With the situation worsening in as the days count down to the full withdrawal of US and UK troops, as well as foreign nationals, Lincolnshire council leaders have already pledged to take in at least 14 Afghan refugee families in response to the crisis.

The UK has agreed to resettle up to 20,000 Afghan refugees fearing retribution.

Coun Richard Wright, leader of North Kesteven District Council and a member of the East Midlands’ Regional Migration Partnership, said: “The Government has requested support from local authorities throughout the country to temporarily house Afghan families. The families will move on to permanent homes as they become available and a small number may remain in Lincolnshire.

“This is a national programme to support those who have assisted the armed forces in Afghanistan and need to leave, as staying would put them in great danger. They have fulfilled vital roles as interpreters and translators supporting British Forces and it is only right that we support them in this way. They and their families will have been granted a visa to come into the UK and will need to apply for settled status through usual processes.”

Coun Wright previously served with the RAF and added: “Having supported our own and Nato member forces, they have now lost everything. I am sure, all things being equal, they would have preferred to stay in their own country, but for the fact this would inevitably mean facing persecution. Having risked their lives working alongside British forces, we owe it to them to offer them assistance, safety and resettlement.”

He said there was no agreed number coming to the county, as each district is looking at availability of suitable homes to match needs.

He said:“The Home Office will consider family needs, including connections they may have with other family members already in the UK, to find the best match to local pledges. It is a very fluid situation and will be a changing picture in the coming months.”

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson had also spoken on the matter in Parliament: “No one in this House can fail to be moved by the scenes we are seeing on our television screens.”