WIRRAL COUNCIL: Afghans to be taken in
Wirral Council has agreed to take in Afghans who worked with the UK during its time in the country, the LDRS understands.
Under ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy), the UK is taking in Afghan interpreters and other personnel who collaborated with British forces in Afghanistan who are assessed to be under serious threat to life.
The UK airlifted around 14,000 people from Afghanistan in the evacuation effort, with Liverpool having already taken in around 100 people from the country.
In Wirral, 12 Afghans will be taken in under this programme, with ARAP evacuees treated as ex-service personnel, not refugees, with unlimited leave to remain in the UK if they were accepted onto the programme before August.
The scheme is backed by funding to cover costs associated with support and integration and is underpinned by a commitment ensuring no homeless Wirral family is disadvantaged by the process of looking to match any family need with properties available at the same time.
Some homes have already been identified as potential placements for ARAP personnel and property checks required to confirm a placement are in process.
Council officers will be working with the Home Office to ensure families have the essentials to move immediately into their new home and to help them access whatever they need as they build their new lives in Wirral.
Voluntary and faith groups will help as part of the process, with the organisation Heart4Refugees agreeing to coordinate the acceptance and distribution of donations and other offers of help.
Wirral Council has identified storage space for the group.
Details of a wider, national Afghanistan Refugee Resettlement Scheme have not yet been announced.
It is only after this point that Wirral Council will consider what further commitments it can make to Afghans.
The local authority is also part of the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) which is designed to support those in the greatest need, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of violence and torture, and women and children at risk.
It was formerly known as the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and it was under this programme that Wirral supported people fleeing the conflict in Syria in recent years.
For 2021/22, Wirral has pledged to accept and place a further 12 individuals fleeing their home country through this programme.
As with ARAP, people coming to Wirral through the UKRS will receive support required to move immediately and will be assisted by voluntary sector organisations and faith groups.
This scheme is separate to the dedicated Afghanistan resettlement programme and Wirral has been part of the UKRS programme since 2017, successfully resettling 134 individuals.
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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