Portsmouth to take highest number of fleeing families of Afghan translators in the south east
THE families of Afghans who worked with British forces during the 20-year war in the country are being resettled in Portsmouth, the leader of the city's council has confirmed.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said two families had already been housed with a third due to arrive later this week and that the city had committed to take in more than any other local authority in the south east.
He said it was right to support the families of people who had 'put their lives on the line to support the British forces' but said he was 'shocked' that many other councils had not made any resettlement commitments.
These are families who helped the UK military – and this is separate to the government plan to rehouse 20,000 Afghans who are fleeing the Taliban. No plans have been announced on how to allocate those people.
Portsmouth City Council has been working with the government over recent weeks to resettle the Afghans who have worked with British armed forces, including interpreters, and their families following the decision to withdraw troops from the country.
These efforts have been put under greater focus in recent days following the Taliban's rapid takeover of the country, including the capture of its capital, Kabul, on Sunday.
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Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the authority had been working with the government over recent weeks to make arrangements to resettle families in the city, and also talking to specialist support organisations.
He said two families had already arrived and been housed in empty Ministry of Defence accommodation and that a third was expected to arrive in the city later this week.
‘These are people who put their lives on the line to support British service people in Afghanistan,’ he said. ‘It's absolutely right that we should be helping to resettle them in the UK.
‘We have made a commitment to take a certain number of families. It was only a small number because we just don't have the space.’
But Cllr Vernon-Jackson said this was still the largest commitment made of any council in the south east.
‘Having seen the numbers, I was absolutely shocked that many councils had made no commitments at all and that Portsmouth's is the highest of any council in the south east,’ he said.
He added that ministers had been 'frantically' phoning over recent days to try and convince local authorities to increase the number of families they are willing to house.
Writing on Facebook on Tuesday, councillor George Madgwick said the total figure was nine.