By Oliver Gibson –
A humanitarian crisis has engulfed Afghanistan over the past few weeks following the US withdrawal of troops and subsequent Taliban takeover.
While President Biden claimed the operation was a success, it allowed the Taliban to take over a larger portion of Afghanistan than they controlled before the start of the US involvement twenty years ago.
Though the Taliban secured a military victory in its 2021 offensive, it faces continued opposition from a considerable section of the Afghan public and the Panjshir Resistance, which is led by the former Vice President of Afghanistan.
The United Nations has estimated that up to half a million people will try to flee Afghanistan before the end of the year and many of these will want to seek asylum in Britain.
So how has the Government reacted? And what role with Kirklees take part in?
Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor recently said in a statement that: “[Kirklees Council] are ready to support any humanitarian response to the situation in Afghanistan.”
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan took many countries by surprise.
Dominic Raab explained to MPs this week that the Government’s belief was that Afghanistan was ‘unlikely’ to fall this year, while US officials expressed similar views.
As a result, these governments took some time to respond to the refugee crisis.
Still, the UK Government created what they called a ‘bespoke plan’ to settle ‘thousands of Afghan women, children and others most in need’ in mid-August. That plan can be found on the Government’s website.
In total, the Government aims to resettle ‘5,000 Afghan nationals’ in the first year, with up to ‘a total of 20,000’ more to come in ‘the long-term.’ This plan is known as the ‘Afghan Resettlement Programme.’
The Afghan Relocation Scheme is about bringing those who are at risk of persecution due to their involvement with the British Armed Forces due to the conflict in Afghanistan. This scheme has been ongoing for some time and predates the other plan.
To accommodate these aims, the Government has pledged £5 million in funding for local councils in England, Scotland and Wales. But how much of this would go to Kirklees?
Kirklees Council’s plan
Kirklees Council has signed up for the Government’s Afghan Relocation Scheme, and as mentioned, this scheme is already underway.
While the Council is keen to join the Afghan Resettlement Programme, the ‘details of this are not yet confirmed.’
In his latest update concerning the matter, Cllr Shabir Pandor, the Council’s leader, said that Kirklees would work ‘closely’ with the Home Office to ‘help to house and support’ those who are ‘in danger and at risk.’
While the numbers are not yet confirmed, one can take findings from the information that has been discussed above.
For example, if 5,000 Afghan refugees were to come to the UK in the next year, that would mean a total of £1,000 would be available for a council to house one Afghan refugee.
If that number was to raise to 20,000, this would mean that councils would get a measly £250 to go towards such efforts.
The Government’s £5,000,000 fund is a short-term solution to a much larger crisis and more efforts will be required in the future if the Government seriously wishes to allow migration to the UK in the numbers it has discussed in the Afghan Resettlement Programme.
One can assume that further details will be made available in the coming weeks from both the Council and the central Government.