by Richard Williams | September 10, 2021

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] said he hoped to relocate ten Afghan families fleeing the Taliban, doubling their previous aid offer.

The increased level of support to help stricken refugees who have been airlifted out of Kabul comes as a cabinet minister praised the authority for being “one of the first” boards to offer support.

The authority was one of 100 of 300 local councils in the UK to provide immediate assistance to Afghan refugees when the crisis in Kabul erupted last month, and immediately pledged to relocate five families.

He now wants to relocate ten.

As of last week, only a third of local councils have adhered to the government’s resettlement and assistance policy in Afghanistan. [ARAP].

Robert Jenrick, MP, Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government, was in Tunbridge Wells on Wednesday 1 September as part of a tour of constituency regeneration projects.

His visit came just as TWBC vowed to try to double its initial pledge to relocate five families, and coincided with his ministry’s announcement that the government had earmarked £ 8.6bn in funding. affordable housing.

Speaking to Times On the plight of Afghan refugees after the evacuation from Kabul, Mr. Jenrick said: “We are very grateful to the Tunbridge Wells Council for participating in our resettlement program in Afghanistan.

“The Council was one of the first to participate and take part by relocating interpreters and their families, and now they have committed to taking at least five more Afghan families.

“It is important that we help the people who stood side by side with our troops in Helmand and elsewhere, and it is right that we support them now.

“We will provide all the support locations like Tunbridge Wells that are needed to accommodate and relocate these people as quickly as possible.”

He added that the government has set up a portal on its website to allow people to submit offers of support to people arriving from Afghanistan, including clothing and toys, as well as offers of housing and work. .

He continued, “The challenge is not only the large number of people needing help in a short period of time, but usually people who usually have larger families, so we need houses for three and three. four bedrooms, which in Tunbridge Wells I know are in short supply. “

A council spokesperson said: “We are committed to finding accommodation for five families, and we have also said that we will do our best to help five more if possible.

“In addition to this support for Afghan families, we are also fulfilling our continued commitment to refugees from other parts of the world and will be helping two more refugee families this year. “

At the time of going to press, the UK had evacuated 17,000 people from Afghanistan since early April.

Of these, 15,000 were subscribed between August 15 and the end of the month. The Interior Ministry said 8,000 of them were PARA applicants.

Landlords wishing to help with housing should contact the Council Housing Team at 01892 526121.

A PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW …
The advisor remembers his tour of Afghanistan

TOUR: Cllr Rands [seated, centre] in afghanistan

A Tunbridge Wells borough councilor and former army major reflected on his time in Afghanistan and the challenges refugees face as they flee the Taliban.

Speaking to Times, Councilor James Rands [Culverden, Lib Dem] thought back to his time in the war-torn region and the events of the past few weeks.

He said: “My first mission in Afghanistan was as a warrant officer on a British training team working with the Afghan National Army. [ANA] officer training school.

“As such, I supervised an ANA colonel. And he told me how he got special forces training in Moscow and the United States.

“His story tells us a lot about Afghanistan. He had fought for the Soviet-backed regime in the 1980s and was highly regarded, but when the tide changed he switched sides. And he thrived.

“In Afghanistan, caring for one’s family and tribe is the highest ethical goal. And people respect others for doing it.

He added that he still had friends and acquaintances in the area.

“I hope my old friends will do what they need to ensure their safety and that of their families,” he said, adding that he believed the Taliban was still a threat.

“They are fanatics. The Taliban have changed over the past 20 years, but not enough to be a government acceptable to anywhere.

For Afghans fleeing their homelands, Cllr Rands says they find it difficult to adjust to places like Tunbridge Wells that are as foreign to them as Kabul is to the people of Kent.

“We have a duty to the Afghans who helped us and fled. We must welcome them and provide them with concrete help.

“There are charities that will help them, but for those who can, giving of their time is more important.

“They come from another world. Expect them to be surprised that you need a license, tax, and insurance to drive a car, for example. “

REFUGEE GROUP LAUNCHES FUNDRAISING

A community group set up to help refugees has started an online fundraiser to help Afghan families coming to Tunbridge Wells.

Hazel Beevers, administrator of Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees, told the Times: “We are fundraising rather than campaigning to donate clothes or items because at this point we don’t know what Afghan families arriving in Tunbridge Wells will need.

“But when the time comes, we’ll work with local organizations, council and charities to ensure that families have everything they need to settle in the area, much like we did – and always do – with Syrian families.

“Our mission is to support and welcome refugees arriving at Tunbridge Wells, so our volunteers also support through mentoring, tutoring, fundraising, hands-on support and community events. “

She added that if anyone wants to volunteer, they can email: [email protected]

Or donations can be sent through this Just Giving link: help-afghan-families-tunbridge-wells

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