Local Politicians Call for Action on Afghan Refugees

Ruth Cadbury criticises government whilst borough Tories want to see council plan

A British soldier helps an Afghan family on board a plane to the UK
A British soldier helps an Afghan family on board a plane to the UK. Picture: MoD

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Politicians across the political spectrum in the local area have called for decisive action to be taken to support people fleeing Afghanistan following the takeover by the Taliban.

Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury has criticised the government’s response as inadequate whilst local Conservatives have called on Hounslow Council to outline its approach to the crisis.

Since the fall of Kabul on Sunday, Ms Cadbury MP says she and her team have been working to assist Afghan constituents. She has urged those who need assistance to come forward and contact her office at ruth@ruthcadbury.org.uk.

This week, alongside Seema Malhotra MP, she met with members of the Afghani community in Hounslow. The Afghan Sikh and Hindu community were deeply concerned for the ethnic minorities of the country, and for the future of women and girls in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Parliament was recalled to debate the unfolding events in Afghanistan, and the government was criticised for the lack of an orderly exit strategy. There was cross-party condemnation of the government’s approach, including from MPs who had served in Afghanistan.

After the debate in Parliament , Ms Cadbury said, “I am deeply concerned for the humanitarian situation on the ground and how the events of the last week threaten the progress that has been made by the Afghan people over the last twenty years. Many in our local community have friends and family in Afghanistan, or have served in the armed forces, and they desperately need support from the government as the situation is quickly turning into a humanitarian catastrophe.

“The government’s attempt to reassure Parliament that it has a plan to support the Afghan people was inadequate. We have had eighteen months to plan an orderly exit strategy, yet the government had no plan to assure the Afghan people that despite our troops withdrawing that we would not be abandoning them or their aspiration for democracy.

“The refugee resettlement programme does not go nearly far enough and the 20,000 over five years is a deliberately arbitrary figure and does not meet the scale of the challenge. We owe a deep obligation to those who have supported us over the last twenty years, and especially to the women of Afghanistan who we encouraged to enter public life who now find themselves as targets of the Taliban.

“Those who have served in Afghanistan, the armed forces, aid workers, journalists, photographers, support staff, civilian contractors, and diplomatic staff, as well as the Afghan people deserve better than the dereliction of duty we have seen from the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.”

She went on to acknowledge all those who have come forward so far, and to thank the hundreds of constituents who have been in contact offering their solidarity, help and concern to those affected by the events of the last week.

She added, “They have demonstrated the great care that West Londoners have for their community and those affected by the crisis. “

The Conservative Group on Hounslow Council have welcomed the government’s newly announced Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme that will operate alongside the revamped Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and the earlier separate Ex Gratia Scheme (ESG). It has urged Hounslow Council to do their bit in supporting the government with this programme.

Leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Group of LB Hounslow Council, Councillor Gerald McGregor, explains that, “With each local authority playing its part, only a handful of refugees (with/without families) will need to be housed by each council. We stand ready to work with local volunteer groups such as the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) in Feltham. It is imperative our Council here in Hounslow steps up and joins the national effort quickly and help avert further tragedy. I am disappointed to have heard little from the administration regarding this so far about what we will be doing here in our borough”.

Councillor Michael Denniss, Shadow Spokesperson for Housing, states, “We must find suitable housing for these very vulnerable people who are seeking a safe-haven in our part of the world. This issue is particularly close to me, given my family’s history as refugees fleeing persecution from the Russian Empire. We made the United Kingdom our home and it could be home to many more who desperately need it.

“The London Borough of Hounslow is a diverse, welcoming and caring place to live. It is home to thousands of people from across the world. It is only right that we invite others in their darkest hour to join our communities and neighbourhoods.

“We await to hear from the Council on their approach to this crisis. “

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August 20, 2021

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