Stevenage Borough Council: 'Afghan crisis aid is humanitarian and moral duty'

Stevenage Borough Council

Stevenage Borough Council - Credit: Archant

With tensions continuing to rise with the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, our national government - as well as local councils - has been pressured to formally address ways in which aid will be provided to those fleeing the country.

In a statement, Stevenage Borough Council leader Cllr Sharon Taylor addressed how the town would support the government's scheme.

She began: "I am sure that people in Stevenage will be as moved by the pictures coming from Kabul Airport as I have been. For the brave citizens of Afghanistan who have worked alongside our own armed forces, the future is at best uncertain, at worst potentially dangerous and frightening. We hope our government will do everything possible to ensure they are able to reach the air bridge then escape from Afghanistan.

"It is now our humanitarian and moral duty for every place in the UK to play its part in welcoming these refugees, many of whom will have the most terrible memories of previous Taliban regimes. Those who did not live through this previously will be living in fear already from the stories of violent reprisals being meted out to those who have worked for UK and US forces."

Other councils joining SBC in pledging to house or aid displaced families include Central Beds, North Herts and Welwyn Hatfield - which have either already welcomed Afghan refugees, or are working to ensure those coming to our areas are welcomed with open arms.

And this is not the first time Stevenage Borough Council has acted in response to chaos in the country, which is now under Taliban control:

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Cllr Taylor continued: "We have previously done this for the seven Syrian refugee families who made their homes here when they fled that war-torn country. The warm-hearted people of Stevenage will open our door and our hearts to those fleeing unimaginable terror in Afghanistan.

"We know there is already a housing crisis in our area which we are working as hard as we can to resolve, we will continue to do so, and as we work to welcome refugees, we will of course continue to seek secure housing opportunities to enable us to help Stevenage people in housing need."

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She continued: "Thank you to all those who have contacted me urging that Stevenage plays our part in providing refuge for those who are having to flee their country because of the support they gave us. We will be discussing our ability to contribute to the refugee resettlement with the UK government in the next few days.

"We are currently working rapidly to assess the availability of private rented property so that we can apply to the government for the appropriate funding and support package for the number of refugee families we can realistically welcome here.

"As we have always done, Stevenage stands ready to provide a safe haven for those who have served us and who, in these desperate circumstances, now need to make a new life away from their homeland."

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