Councils in England, Scotland and Wales will have access to a share of £5m to help them provide the necessary housing and support to Afghans who have worked for the UK in Afghanistan, but who now face threats of persecution or worse.
Additional healthcare provision, access to Covid-19 vaccinations and funding for housing will be provided to support Afghans coming to the UK via the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme.
The Afghan LES (Locally Employed Staff) Housing Costs Fund will provide a top up to help councils meet the costs of renting properties for those that need it, including larger homes for families.
This will help give councils the security to make a firm offer of support to take people into their communities and help them build a new life.
The UK is doubling the amount of humanitarian aid to the region, up to £286m with immediate effect, and the new bespoke resettlement scheme will be one of the most generous in British history the government said, as it is set to relocate up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans.
As President of the G7, the UK is working to unite the international community behind a clear plan for dealing with this regime and are asking international partners to match the UK’s commitments and work together to offer a lifeline to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people.
Commenting, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said:
“Our immediate focus is to evacuate the Afghans who risked their lives supporting us over the past twenty years and to whom we owe so much.
“We are proud to bring them to the UK and this additional support will help make sure that those arriving from Afghanistan receive the housing and healthcare that they need as they start to build a new life here.
“We will do everything we can in the days, weeks and months ahead to protect the most vulnerable, which is why we’re doubling our humanitarian aid to the region and setting up a new bespoke resettlement scheme to give up to 20,000 of those most in need of refuge here in the UK.”
Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick added:
“There is already an enormous effort underway to support those arriving from Afghanistan, with close to a third of councils already stepping up to support new arrivals.
“However, we urgently need more offers of support to welcome Afghan families who have stood shoulder to shoulder with the UK, serving our troops and our country so bravely in recent years.
“With this extra support in place, I’m calling on all councils who have not yet come forward, to contact us with a firm offer of support to help our Afghan friends and their families as they build a new life in safety here.”
The ARAP scheme launched on 1 April 2021.
Under the scheme, any current or former LES who worked in Afghanistan for the UK Embassy and assessed to be at serious risk of threat to life are offered priority relocation to the UK, regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served.
Thanks to the efforts of over a quarter of councils across the UK and vital delivery partners, hundreds of Afghan nationals who have worked alongside British forces and diplomats in Afghanistan have already been welcomed by councils across the country.
This work is happening at pace and, with many more Afghan families set to arrive, the government said there is still more to do to ensure the UK is supporting new arrivals as best we can.
The government said the ambition to provide protection to thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan and the complex picture on the ground means there will be significant challenges in delivering the scheme.
However, they said they are committed to doing all it can for those who need the UK’s support and are working at great speed to address these obstacles.