Wandsworth MPs Want Ambitious Target for Afghan Refugees

Urge council to resettle more families in the borough

Particular concern for women and children under the new regime. Picture: Hashoo Foundation
Particular concern for women and children under the new regime. Picture: Hashoo Foundation

Fleur Anderson MP, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP and Marsha De Cordova MP have jointly written to the Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, to urge the Council to set an ambitious target for resettling refugee families in the borough.

Following the shock fall of Kabul to the Taliban on Sunday, the three MPs with constituencies in the borough are calling on the council to work with community organisations like Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees, the South London Refugee Association, CARAS, Katherine Low Settlement, Just Shelter, Battersea Welcomes Refugees and local faith groups to ensure refugees are embraced and supported.

Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, said, “The situation in Afghanistan is beyond heart-breaking. The images of people clinging desperately to departing planes are etched into my mind. The UK must act now, in collaboration with the international community, to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis. “We must not turn our backs on the people of Afghanistan. We cannot allow the hard-won rights of women and girls to evaporate overnight, nor should we abandon the brave people and their families who risked their lives to help our armed forces. The Government must take steps to ensure aid can reach those in need to prevent further human suffering.

“Since the launch of the Syrian Refugees Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme in 2014, Wandsworth Council have only accepted 12 Syrian refugee families. We must do better this time. I want to see Wandsworth leading by example and setting ambitious targets for resettling refugees here. Judging by the thousands of emails we have received over the last week, there is certainly strong public support. “

There have been similar calls by Wandsworth Labour Group, various community organisations and residents who have written in support of welcoming refugees.

A joint letter from London Assembly Member Leonie Cooper and Cllr Aydin Dikerdem, Housing Lead of the Wandsworth Labour Group states, “I’m sure like many of us across the borough you have been deeply moved and concerned by the news and images coming out of Afghanistan. Wandsworth has a long and proud history of welcoming those fleeing conflict, be it the Huguenots, or the original waves of Irish immigrants, to more recent arrivals fleeing war in the Balkans and Somalia. Former Battersea MP, Lord Alf Dubs, was himself a beneficiary of the Kindertransport programme in the 1940s - and of course your own family story is one that speaks deeply to this legacy.

“It is in this spirit that we call on you, as a Conservative authority, to write to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary, indicating Wandsworth’s support for the establishment of the refugee settlement programme for those Afghani’s fleeing persecution - and indicating our willingness locally to provide assistance”

18.4 million people in Afghanistan already require humanitarian assistance. This year, cuts to the aid budget by the government have already seen the UK contribution to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan reduced by 76%, bilateral aid to the country almost cut in half and the crisis reserve fund cut from £500m to £30m.

There are calls for the UK to help the response to the crisis by committing to a British Afghanistan Resettlement Programme, to create safe and legal routes for those suffering at the hands of the Taliban so they can make a new life here in Britain.

Fleur Anderson says that her team I are currently working on 22 cases involving Putney residents & their families, who are stuck in Kabul.

She says, “We are working tirelessly to engage with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to help bring these people to a place of safety & sanctuary.”

Any constituent affected by the crisis is asked to email her as soon as possible at fleur.anderson.mp@parliament.uk.

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August 20, 2021