Major city mayors say they still don’t know how Afghanistan’s resettlement program will work

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Leaders of major UK cities have said they are still awaiting details from the government on how the resettlement of Afghan refugees in their areas will work.

Liverpool Underground Mayor Steve Rotheram has described the government’s handling of the resettlement program so far as “chaos at every level”.

More than 15,000 Afghan refugees have been flown to the UK since the Taliban took control of the country in mid-August, including around 8,000 eligible for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) program.

The councils will receive £ 5million to help Arap refugees meet the additional cost of renting out the properties needed to house them, the government has said. He also pledged £ 12million to enroll refugee children in schools, as well as free English classes for adults, plus £ 3million to help families access health care and s ” register with a general practitioner.

But Rotheram told PoliticsHome that attempts to get details from the government on how the resettlement program in the Liverpool city area works, including the number of refugees the region will be asked to resettle, left him with no clarity.

As the government announced its ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ program earlier this week, the former Labor MP said he still had no details on how the refugees would be taken to Liverpool and how the social integration plans would work. He described the process so far as “absolutely rubbish” and “just terrible”.

“It’s almost like the government is keeping their fingers crossed that everything is going to be okay,” Rotheram said.

“They need to do more about it. We’re trying to resolve the issue now through our senior general manager.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the government still needed to ensure “better coordination” on resettlement, but was otherwise more optimistic.

Khan said he had had “very good conversations” with Home Secretary Pritil Patel and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick in recent days about London’s role in the resettlement of refugees.

“The good thing is that a number of London boroughs have said they want to step in and help,” he told PoliticsHome.

“Many Afghans will want to live in London in part because of its diversity and the many Londoners of similar faith and ethnicity. need.”

The Interior Ministry has pledged to eventually resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees. As part of “Operation Warm Welcome”, Afghans eligible for the Arap program, which prioritizes people who worked for Britain during its 20-year mission in Afghanistan and their families, will be seen grant immediate and indefinite leave to stay in the UK.

Earlier this week, the Home Office said more than 100 tips had come forward to help refugee families find homes upon arrival in the UK, with more than 2,000 places already confirmed.

Home Secretary Victoria Atkins said the government’s plans “would warmly welcome all who have come to our shores in recent weeks, but also in the longer term, and ensure that with our help, they can build a bright future in our country. ”.

Jenrick this week hosted a roundtable of council leaders across the country to discuss resettlement plans.

Abi Brown, Tory leader of Stoke on Trent city council, criticized two-thirds of councils in England that had not yet offered to resettle the refugees.

“How could you not watch these scenes on TV over the past few weeks and highlight this?” Brown told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday.

“The question I would like to ask the other leaders of local communities, 66% who have not named, is: why can’t they?

“If I can, with the challenges that we have, one in 250 people in Stone on Trent is an asylum seeker, and due to the pressure around that we have pulled out of the asylum dispersal system, what’s their excuse? “

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Local Government said hundreds of Afghan refugees had already been welcomed into communities through “vital delivery partners” in around a third of UK councils.

“We call on all councils that have not yet made a firm offer of support to help our Afghan friends and their families as they build a new life here in safety,” the spokesperson said.

“Councils in England, Scotland and Wales will have access to a share of an additional £ 5million to help them provide the necessary housing and support to the Afghans who have worked for that country in Afghanistan, but who now face threats of persecution or worse. “

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