Recognising the challenges of the Afghanistan crisis and the need for our city to pull together in response, City of York Council is arranging a (virtual) roundtable meeting on 15th September. This will bring together key partners across the city, from business, health, faith, housing, voluntary and charitable organisations to discuss how to best work together to support refugees who will be resettling in York.
Since the announcement that NATO military forces would withdraw from Afghanistan, the Council started work alongside the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and MHCLG to support the national effort with regard to the Locally Employed Staff (LES) scheme, which is part of the wider Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). Local councils across Yorkshire are supporting the recently announced Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).
The Refugee Coordination Group, convened by the Council before this latest crisis, brings together organisations who are working with refugees in the city. This ensures coordination of effort, allowing agencies to share information and knowledge, spots any gaps in provision, promotes excellent customer service and prevents duplication of work. This group has worked well in adding value to the support provided to Syrian refugees and other groups in the city and will be used to ensure comprehensive, joined-up support is provided to the Afghan refugees.
Councillor Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Council Leader, commented:
“As a city we must play our part in supporting those fleeing unimaginable danger and terror. Council staff are working around the clock so that we are ready to give refugees the sanctuary they need.
“By bringing together representatives from the community, faith, business and voluntary sector we can work together. I’m thankful to partners across the city that are ready to support our efforts and ensure that as a city we do all we can to support innocent people fleeing from the terror of the Taliban.
“Whilst are ready to do our bit locally, the Government must step up and make an immediate commitment to save those Afghan nationals who have selflessly support the British efforts over the last twenty years and are now in grave danger. Clear guidance and funding for local authorities to house and support refugees must also be provided without placing more strain on already overstretched budgets.”