Scotland’s councils draw up plans to welcome hundreds of Afghan refugees

Scotland’s councils have drawn up plans to welcome hundreds of Afghan refugees in the coming months.

Under current plans, at least 60 families and a further 73 individuals have either arrived or are expected in Scotland under the resettlement programme for Afghans who worked with the British military or government in Afghanistan.

A total of 25 of Scotland’s 32 councils responded to the PA news agency’s request for information on Afghan refugee resettlement.

Many said they are awaiting further information from the UK Government on the latest programme – the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

Announced in August it commits the UK Government to take about 5,000 Afghans in the first year as part of 20,000 over five years.

Of the councils which responded, Glasgow and Inverclyde have drawn up plans in recent months to rehome the highest amount of refugees under the military and Government resettlement scheme, known as the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap).

Glasgow is understood to have taken in 73 people since June while Inverclyde has welcomed six families since August 31 and plans to double this by the end of next month.

Inverclyde is considering taking up to 28 families under the military resettlement scheme.

In common with many of the councils which are taking Afghan refugees under the Arap scheme, they responded to a plea from the UK Government in June seeking support, as the Taliban took over large swathes of the country following the withdrawal of international forces in these areas.

Aberdeenshire is taking eight families, Dumfries and Galloway between two and four, Fife 10, Falkirk two, North Ayrshire five and Perth and Kinross three but is looking at taking up to six.

Scottish Borders Council is taking five families, as is South Lanarkshire, and South Ayrshire is taking up to three while the Western Isles has set aside two properties for any Afghan refugees they are allocated.

Some families have already arrived with more expected to join them in the coming weeks.

Several other councils which responded indicated they plan to accept Afghan refugees but were unable to provide figures.

Refugee support rally
Rallies have been held to welcome refugees (Ian West/PA)

North Ayrshire was one of the councils which increased its allocation as the situation in Afghanistan worsened.

North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “The situation in Afghanistan is a deeply worrying one and the images we are seeing are awful and very troubling.

“We have a humanitarian duty to support people in crisis in any way we can and, in particular, those who have supported our own armed forces on the front line and that’s why we will be looking to increase our provision as much as possible.

“We will be looking to house a further three families – on top of the two that we had already agreed too – and find suitable accommodation as quickly as possible.

“We will also be reviewing the situation and if we are able to do more then we will do that.

“Our communities have welcomed families from Syria and Afghanistan over the years and we are sure that they will continue to offer friendship and support to any new arrivals in the weeks ahead.

“There will be the minority who are not happy with the decision but we would ask them to imagine themselves in the awful situation faced by those currently in Afghanstan.”

Only one council – Midlothian – was able to provide a notional number, 20, for the refugees it plans to resettle under the UK Government’s recently announced scheme to provide homes for vulnerable Afghans.