Hundreds of refugees who assisted UK in Afghanistan find new home in the east

More than 1,500 refugees who assisted the UK Government or stood up for democratic values in Afghanistan have been successfully resettled in the east of England.

Hundreds of families fleeing the war-torn country have been found new homes since July 2021 thanks to the partnership work of the region’s Strategic Migration Partnership (SMP) with councils in the East of England – with 1581 individuals resettled in total.

The refugees have been settled through the Government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

The two projects help relocate those who have assisted the UK Government in Afghanistan in ‘exposed or meaningful roles’ or who stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights freedom of speech and the rule of law.

Vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk and members of minority groups, including ethnic minorities and LGBTQIA+, have also been rehoused.

Those fleeing Afghanistan include Mr A, who wishes to remain anonymous, who was granted safe passage to the UK in December 2021, with his wife and three children.

After staying some time in a quarantine hotel and a bridging hotel, the family are now settled in a house in the region.

He spoke positively about the support the family received on moving to their new home.

“I really felt supported, and they were very much reachable and very much helpful,” he said.

“If I need anything they will help.”

Mr A said moving out of the hotel and settling into a house was crucial to his family’s wellbeing as staying there had brought back memories of past traumas.

“In the hotel all the other things were perfect,” he said, “but we were facing two problems in our case.

“First it was the mental issues and traumas we have been through.

“Secondly, we were meeting people who had all come through the same path, and if you see people again and again you feel that everybody is like that [struggling with the trauma of their experiences].”

Mr A said his family are getting used to life in the UK, and joked about how much time his daughter now spends visiting their new neighbours.

“Up to this point we were having our time together [as a family],” he said.

“So slowly, slowly we’re starting to engage with the neighbours.

“Our garden doors are open to each other now. Especially with our little one.”

Humeira Yaqub, Regional Resettlement Coordinator at the SMP said: “Many Afghan refugees supported the UK Government in their country and are at risk due to their courageous actions.

“The region is proud to have found new homes for more than 1,500 Afghan refugees and there is still much more work to be done.”

Anyone settled through the ACRS project will be able to apply for British citizenship after five years living in the UK.

Humeira added: “With the work of SMP projects such as last year’s Wellbeing and Work for Refugee Integration (WW4RI) project and its successor Employability for Overseas Nationals (EON), refugees are supported not just in finding accommodation, but also entering the world of work.

“Through these projects, the SMP and regional colleagues are supporting refugees to work towards achieving full and economically active lives away from the trauma they experienced in their home country.”

For more information on the SMP and the work it does supporting refugees, follow this link: Refugee Resettlement – EELGA SMP