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Afghan refugee families to be homed in Pembrokeshire as part of Ministry of Defence scheme

'For humanity and a higher good': Wales offers sanctuary to Afghan asylum seekers © UNHCR/Humera Karim

SENIOR Pembrokeshire councillors are expected to back an MoD scheme which will see up to 10 Afghan refugee families homed in the county.

The MOD will be leasing 10 properties in Pembrokeshire to Afghan families who have a military connection, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on October 2, will hear.

In November 2021 Cabinet backed a call for support from the Home Office following the launch of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), launched in addition to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

This offers eligible current or former locally employed staff (who worked for or with the UK Government) and who are assessed to be under serious threat to life, priority relocation to the UK.

At that time Cabinet agreed to support the scheme by offering to accommodate two families in the private rented sector.

Due to pressures in the private housing market, no Afghan families have yet been placed in Pembrokeshire.

A report for Cabinet members says: “Due to the strong military linkages that many resettled Afghans have due to the historic conflicts in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has put forward 10 houses (mix of three and some four-bed houses) based in Pembrokeshire for use by people arriving from Pakistan and their families.

“This is part of their nation-wide support for the ARAP scheme.

“Only families with a military connection will be able to access these properties, in line with the ARAP policy.  These houses are currently being renovated by contractors commissioned by the MoD, to ensure they meet housing standards and should be available by November 30.”

It is proposed the properties are leased directly to the families;  The MoD  responsible for furnishing and maintaining the properties, and setting and collecting rent.

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The report for members says concerns have been raised around community cohesion, mainly due to the 10 properties being located in one – unnamed – town, based on experiences in other counties.

“We would mitigate against this through robust communications and community events,” the report says, adding: “The police have not raised any concerns relating to this matter.”

In order to support the families, the council is able to access Home Office grant funding, available for three years at a total of £20,520 per person. If all 10 households were occupied the Authority would receive an estimated £620,000 to £820,000.

It is recommended that Cabinet support the MoD using the houses, with the Pembrokeshire Migration Partnership Board and delivery team managing the Afghan resettlement scheme using the infrastructure currently in place.

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