Leeds City Council will continue to welcome Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban

A senior Leeds city councillor has claimed the city of Leeds will continue to welcome Afghan refugees and help them rebuild their lives in the city.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 3:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 3:14 pm

But there were calls to the Government to offer more clarity on the support available to councils, which will take on the logistical brunt of rehousing and supporting those fleeing to the UK.

It follows heartbreaking scenes last month as Afghans were seen desperately trying to leave the country via Kabul Airport, terrified at the prospect of living under Taliban rule.

The Home Office made an announcement more than three weeks ago, claiming that the UK was prepared to welcome 10,000 Afghan refugees during this year, and a total of 20,000 “in the long term”.

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Former Afghan interpreters and veterans hold a demonstration in Parliament Square, London, calling for support and protection for Afghan interpreters and their families. Picture date: Wednesday August 18, 2021 (photo: PA).

But councils are still calling on Whitehall for detail on how this will be managed at a local level.

Leeds City Council’s executive board member Coun Mary Harland (Lab) told a full council meeting: “Many people in Leeds have been saddened by the situation in Afghanistan. Our city has had a long standing commitment to support asylum seekers and refugees.

“We recognise the Government’s support and commitment to resettlement, and we ask that their support is distributed fairly across the country to make sure every council and community does their bit.

“We are already working with other councils across the region. We have already made firm commitments and have welcomed some families to Leeds.

"We will continue to work with partners to make sure that the new arrivals have been welcomed and will start to built their lives here.”

Coun Harland said the authority was still awaiting guidance from central government as to how much help their will receive to support refugees.

She added: “We are receiving many kind donations, and the increasing number of offers. We are happy to accept donations in the meantime and I would like to thank people who have donated to the refugees.”

It was not disclosed how many families from Afghanistan had been taken in by Leeds.