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Hertfordshire County Council promises welcome for Afghan refugees

The leader of Hertfordshire County Council has promised the authority will help refugees from Afghanistan.

The UK Government has said it will resettle 5,000 asylum seekers in the first year of a programme which Home Secretary Priti Patel says will welcome 20,000 people fleeing the Taliban.

Cllr Richard Roberts said: "Hertfordshire is a diverse and inclusive county and will do all we can to help those fleeing oppression and persecution find sanctuary, settle into their new communities and overcome the trauma they have faced.

Cllr Richard Roberts (50418604)
Cllr Richard Roberts (50418604)

"We are working closely with central government, as well as our district and borough councils and voluntary organisations, to ensure we have the necessary resources and support available to meet the needs of those arriving in the county.

"Our heartfelt thoughts go out to all those in the armed forces community affected by the conflict and the unfolding situation, as well as the Afghans who did so much to support our military and civilian endeavours. Support for our veteran community is readily available through the Veterans' Gateway and I would urge anyone who needs it to reach out."

An East Herts Council spokeswoman said: "We are in ongoing discussions with the Home Office and our partners with a view to being able to support the placement of refugee families from the end of September/early October. Our team are working closely with housing providers to discuss the potential of making homes available."

Melvin Caton (50418646)
Melvin Caton (50418646)

In Uttlesford, Liberal Democrat members of the district council have called on the authority to volunteer to house refugees.

Their leader, Stansted's Cllr Melvin Caton, said: "Uttlesford has welcomed a number of Syrian families to the district in recent years following the civil war in that country. We should do the same for refugees that are fleeing their homes or face threats of persecution from the Taliban in Afghanistan."

The council issued a statement on its website: "We have great sympathy for refugees from the conflict in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We'll be working closely with Essex County Council and other agencies to accommodate and support refugees who may be resettled in Essex.

"This is an emerging situation which we will need to respond to. A package of suitable self-contained housing, school places, primary health care and other support is being pulled together in preparation for those refugees who may be referred to us by the Home Office for resettlement in Essex."

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