Preparations for Afghan refugees underway
Plans are in place to support Afghan refugees in West Lothian.
Council Executive members heard an update in the UK Government’s programmes for resettling refuges from Afghanistan, which will see an estimated 28,000 come to the the UK over the next five years.
This will be done through two schemes, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). Funding in place similar to the Syrian Refugee Resettlement programme to help councils meet the costs of housing and support for a limited period.
The council has significant experience in supporting the Syrian Refugee Resettlement scheme, with discussions are ongoing with COSLA, Register Social Landlords (RSL) partners and other parties in identifying suitable accommodation and related support.
Around 60 Afghan refugees are expected to come to West Lothian over the next five years.
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “We stand ready to help Afghan refugees affected by the growing humanitarian crisis in the country. I know many people in West Lothian like me will have been deeply moved by the plight of Afghan citizens, many of whom face persecution and risk to their life if they stay in their home country.
“An issue like this transcends national borders, and we must do all we can to help our fellow human beings, who are facing dangers that most of us in a relatively safe country like Scotland can hardly imagine.”
Both schemes prioritise Afghans who assisted UK efforts and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights or freedom of speech, or vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT+.