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Exeter offers a warm welcome to Afghan evacuees

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The UK Home Office is placing a number of Afghan families in temporary “bridging” accommodation in an Exeter hotel, as part of the government’s Afghan relocation programme.

Family members worked with and for UK organisations, before the Taliban took power in August.  They have been evacuated to protect them from harassment and serious harm. 

The bridging accommodation is a temporary measure until individuals and families are found permanent, long term accommodation in locations across the country.

Up to nine families are expected to move into the temporary Devon accommodation over the coming week, comprising individual adults and families with young children.

Councils across the UK have also been asked to help identify suitable long term accommodation for the resettlement scheme, and in Devon local appeals to private sector landlords have resulted in some potential homes being found.

The Afghan evacuees have been living in quarantine hotels elsewhere, since fleeing the new Taliban regime.

In Devon, City and District Councils, which have responsibility for housing, are attempting to identify more long term accommodation specifically from private sector landlords, so that there is no impact on their local housing waiting lists.

We are working with local community groups and volunteers to ensure that, once refugees are found suitable accommodation in the county, support around them is available quickly to help them settle in, access local health services and education, and find employment if possible.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for communities, said:

“All local authorities have been asked to help support with Afghan refugees who worked with and for our UK forces in Afghanistan and who were forced to leave their country as a result of the collapse of the country following withdrawal of US and UK forces.

“A group will be placed temporarily in Exeter as part of the Government’s resettlement programme pending their onward journey to long term accommodation, which could be anywhere in the country.

“We are working closely with Exeter City Council, NHS Devon, police and local community and voluntary groups to make sure we are ready to welcome them.”

Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk said:

“We’ve always said that the city wants to play a full part in helping families forced to leave Afghanistan and start a new life, and I am pleased that we are able to support them in the city.

“Exeter has a proud record of helping refugees, just as it did following the conflict in Syria, and I know that they will receive a warm welcome during their stay in the city.”

Dr Barry Coakley has been supporting Afghan refugees who arrived in Exmouth in recent weeks with the support of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Dr Coakley said:

“These refugees have served our country and helped to keep members of the UK armed forces safe in Afghanistan.  Now they are in Devon, a county where many of our armed forces are based, we welcome the opportunity to provide them and their families with the same access to healthcare as we and our families have.  Having arrived in the UK with so little and often only a verbal account of their medical history, we are supporting refugees to build health records, offering childhood vaccinations, showing families how to access care through the NHS and addressing any immediate medical needs.”