Council to support Afghanistan refugees

By Jake Chown  
Tuesday 24th August 2021 1:34 pm
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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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Monmouthshire’s Council Leader has said the county stands ready and willing to play its part in supporting families fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.

It follows US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw American troops.

Monmouthshire has previously accommodated Afghan translators who were at risk of torture by the Taliban for their work and support for British forces over the past 20 years.

In June, the council’s new administration reaffirmed its commitment to Monmouthshire being a county of sanctuary for asylum seekers fleeing persecution - becoming one of just a handful of councils in Wales to do so.

Over the coming days council officers will be assessing exactly what Monmouthshire can offer in the way of accommodation and consider ways in which Monmouthshire residents could assist in what could become a humanitarian crisis.

Cllr Richard John, Council Leader, said, "I’ve met with the UK Government and other council leaders to discuss how the UK can identify sufficient accommodation to allow more Afghans to flee persecution. We’re watching events in Afghanistan closely in what is a very precarious and unstable situation.

"Whether it was right to go into Afghanistan in 2001 is a question for the history books, but once there and having supported the country’s fledgling democracy, enabled girls to be educated and empowered women to work, including in senior roles as MPs, cabinet ministers and judges, as well as keeping violence at bay, the West has a moral duty.

"Monmouthshire stands ready and willing to offer any support we can to refugees fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, just as we have continued to welcome and accommodate a number of former translators from Afghanistan who were at risk of death for their support for British armed forces.

"The help that a county like Monmouthshire can provide may be small compared to the scale of the overall need for Afghan resettlement, but for every individual or family that we can help, it really is life changing."

Cllr Lisa Dymock, cabinet member for community wellbeing and social justice, said: "I can’t begin to imagine the terror that many vulnerable people in Afghanistan must be experiencing at the hands of Taliban fighters.

"Western countries have a responsibility for the people of Afghanistan and particularly those who supported allied troops and are now at risk of death or torture.

"In Monmouthshire, we have a proud record of offering accommodation to asylum seekers while their cases are being decided and to offer sanctuary to Afghan interpreters.

’’We are now working to establish what accommodation could be made available to rehome some of the world’s most vulnerable people at a time of real crisis.

"As each day goes by, the images we see from Afghanistan become more distressing.

’’We will not stand by - we will do everything we can to help."

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