Afghan refugees 'settling in well' in Harrogate district as three more families are on the way

The leader of Harrogate council has said Afghan refugees are "settling in well" in the district and that three more families are on the way.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 4:29 pm
The Harrogate district has so far welcomed four Afghan families.

Harrogate has so far welcomed four families under a government scheme targeted at Afghans who worked for the UK military and are fleeing the country because they are under serious threat from the Taliban.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, council leader Richard Cooper said: "Four families have arrived under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), one in Knaresborough and three in Harrogate. They are settling in well.

"We have been asked to accommodate three more families under ARAP. "

British troops left Afghanistan over the weekend, bringing an end to the UK's 20-year military involvement in the country which is now under the control of the Taliban.

Taliban leaders have pledged not to allow Afghanistan to become a base for terrorists who could threaten the West.

But questions are already being asked about how they will govern the country, and what this will mean for women, human rights, and political freedoms.

There are also questions over what will happen to Afghans who are eligible to come to the UK but have been left behind in the evacuation programme.

Speaking on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he couldn't give a "definitive" figure for how many of those remained in the country.

Under another scheme for refugees, the Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), the government has pledged to take in up to 20,000 refugees over the coming years, with a focus on women and children, as well as religious and other minorities.

The scheme is still being developed and local councils which have pledged their support are now awaiting information on how they can help.

Councillor Cooper previously said Harrogate would take in "more than our quota" of refugees who are “in need of and deserve our assistance".

He has now added: "The details of the long-term Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme have not been released by the government.

"When they are, we will work with North Yorkshire County Council and Migration Yorkshire on the programme."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter