WALES has passed a significant milestone in our country’s efforts to provide sanctuary to Afghan nationals who have supported our Armed Forces.
Wales is now accommodating 50 families, comprising approximately 230 individuals.
The majority of those who have arrived have directly supported Wales-based and Wales-facing Armed Forces units in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.
TEAM WALES: TEAM EFFORT
A ‘Team Wales’ approach involved the Welsh Government, Welsh Local Authorities, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Ministry of Defence, refugee support organisations and local Welsh Afghans.
Welsh local authorities also continue to support the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the asylum system.
The collaborative national approach will continue in the coming weeks to ensure additional families can be brought safely to Wales and integrate effectively with Wales’s communities.
Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We welcome the families and individuals that have served our country in Afghanistan.
“We have made clear our pledge of Wales being a Nation of Sanctuary and we’re committed to doing all that is possible to ensure Afghan interpreters, refugees and their families are welcome.
“We will do all we can to provide a warm welcome in the short-term and our communities will, no doubt, be enriched by their skills and experiences in the very near future.”
All local authorities in Wales are participating in these schemes and have offered their support and assistance to the Afghan citizens who are being resettled in the UK.
Ms Hutt added: “I also want to place on record my particular thanks to Urdd Gobaith Cymru for having the humanitarian vision to ensure we can provide a distinctly Welsh welcome for our new Afghan friends.”
Chief Executive of the Urdd, Sian Lewis said: “This has been a huge team Wales effort across all sectors, and we are grateful to our partners for enabling us to open our doors as a refuge to families seeking shelter and safety.
“As an organisation, we are proud to help and continue to share with our members the importance of loyalty to country and culture but also to humanity and a higher good.
“We have a moral obligation as a national youth organisation to support humanitarian projects and offer a hand of friendship and support to the Afghan community in their time of need.”
FROM UK GOVERNMENT
Councils who support people through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) or Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme will receive £20,520 per person, over three years, for resettlement and integration costs.
Under a UK Government scheme, local councils and health partners who resettle families will receive up to £4,500 per child for education, £850 to cover English language provision for adults requiring this support and £2,600 to cover healthcare.
Under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, the UK Government has committed to resettling up to 20,000 Afghans, of which 5,000 will be resettled in the scheme’s first year.
That money is extra to the ARAP scheme, which has already resettled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK Government, and their families.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Social Justice, Mark Isherwood MS, said: “We continue to maintain our long-standing commitment to Wales as a nation of sanctuary.
“I sponsored and hosted the Sanctuary in the Senedd event five years ago.
“We must ensure that Afghans who have had to flee their homes, including those coming to the UK who worked closely with the British military and the UK Government in Afghanistan, and risked their lives in doing so, receive the vital support they will need to rebuild their lives and have a future with stability and security. Wales must play its full part in this.
“Britain has a proud track record of helping those in dire need, just like we did with the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
“I’m proud of the gargantuan effort taking place across the whole of Wales to welcome people from Afghanistan.
“The funding announcement will help the new arrivals to integrate and assimilate into British society, whilst making sure our councils are not left without the proper funding that’s needed.”
ARMY PROUD OF
NATION OF SANCTUARY
Colonel Sion Walker, Deputy Commander 160th (Welsh) Brigade said: “160th (Welsh) Brigade and its Joint Military Command (Wales) is structured to support Welsh Government and all local authorities when dealing with major situations as we have done throughout the COVID pandemic.
“Supporting all those agencies involved in the Wales plan has enabled them to focus on their key areas of responsibility and enabled Wales’s plan to be pulled together in little over a week.
“There are direct historical links with Wales-based and Wales facing units and members of many of those families coming to Wales.
“They will have worked alongside each other during very difficult times in Afghanistan; our involvement is recognition of the support given and comradeships developed during those times, and we are proud to have played a part in making Wales a nation of sanctuary.”
Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson said: ‘It was an easy decision to offer our help to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan – and I know that the communities of Pembrokeshire will welcome the families that come to settle in our wonderful county.”