MORE than fifty concerned organisations and individuals across the county have come together to show solidarity with those fleeing violence and persecution in Afghanistan.

Last week Asylum Welcome, an organisation that supports asylum seekers, refugees, and vulnerable migrants living in Oxfordshire, hosted a meeting to share concerns about the recent events in Afghanistan and create a joint response on how Oxfordshire can help.

Attendees at the meeting ranged from refugee support groups, large organisations in the city such as Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford City of Sanctuary, as well as a number of councillors.

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Representatives from East Oxford MP, Anneliese Dodds, and West Oxford and Abingdon MP Layla Moran offices also attended.

The organisation’s welcomed the Government’s commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees in the coming years, however, asked that it takes a full assessment of the situation to make sure the resettlement places reflect the number of people in life-threatening situations.

It also called on the Government to confirm that the new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme would be in addition to the existing U.K. Resettlement Scheme, rather than replacing it.

On a local scale, the organisation asked the county, city, and district council to ‘take all possible steps’ to find housing for Afghan refugees – stressing that ‘at the very least’ Oxfordshire should take its share of new arrivals.

Both Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have said they are awaiting confirmation from the Government about the number of refugees it can house.

The organisation called on councillors to represent the voices of their constituents who have ‘strongly expressed their solidarity with refugees’ and speak out ‘against the borders bill’.

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Over the weekend the final evacuation flights of refugees and military personnel from Afghanistan flew out of the country’s capital, Kabul, with many arriving at RAF Brize Norton, near Carterton.

The arrivals marked the end of Britain's 20-year engagement in Afghanistan and a two-week operation to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies.

Asylum Welcome, however, is now looking at how Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in the UK can be best supported.

The organisation called on both universities ‘to help identify and make available possible accommodation and support’, which the group said was done ‘so effectively to house homeless people during Covid’.

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It thanked the ongoing support of Ms Dodds and Ms Moran, but called on the county’s four Tory MPs to ‘engage on an individual basis with the concerns of their constituents regarding the welcoming of Afghan asylum seekers.

The group said it would share more guidance on how locals in Oxfordshire can help with the current crisis once there is ‘greater clarity’ on how many individuals will be housed across the county.