With events in Afghanistan dominating the news headlines, Trafford Conservatives have been seeking assurance that the council is doing all it can to be ready to welcome Afghan nationals under the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme and the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
The Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme prioritises women and girls, and religious and other minorities, who are most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban. The UK is working with international partners to develop a system to identify those most at risk and resettle them, ensuring help goes to those that need it. The Government will work with local councils to ensure that Afghans who will be rebuilding their lives in the UK have the help they need and support to integrate.
The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) offers any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life priority relocation to the UK. 5,000 former Afghan staff and their family members are expected to be relocated to the UK by the end of this year under ARAP; since 22 June 2021, the Government has resettled over 2,000 former Afghan staff and their families in the UK under ARAP. Since 2013, the Government has resettled over 3,300 Afghan staff and their families in the UK.
In addition, Trafford Conservatives have also been seeking answers to what support the council is providing to British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders arriving from Hong Kong via the UK government’s BN(O) route.
Cllr. Mussadak Mirza, Shadow Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships at Trafford Council said “The scenes on the news of Afghans trying to flee the country is heart-breaking but I am encouraged that the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme and the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) which will go some way in helping Afghans have a better future in the UK. The Resettlement Scheme is modelled on the successful Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which resettled 20,000 Syrian refugees over a seven-year period from 2014 to 2021, including some in Trafford.
“Councillors in Trafford have also been approached by ‘Trafford Hongkongers’ who are representatives of families from Hong Kong who have largely settled in the Sale area through the UK government’s BN(O) route. This has provided £43.1 million of funding through a welcome programme put in place to support BN(O) status holders and their family members. Trafford Conservatives have already reached out to ‘Trafford Hongkongers’ to ask to meet with the Group to understand more about how the council and local community can assist the families more.
Trafford has always been a welcoming place for new families and Conservatives want that to continue. That is why we are trying to ensure that the support is in place as new families arrive from Afghanistan and also that recent arrivals from Hong Kong are adequately supported to live, study and work in Trafford, on a pathway to UK citizenship.”