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Growing number of Kent councils commit to housing Afghan refugees in their areas

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Original article from Kent Live

A growing number of councils across Kent have committed to assisting with resettlement of an expected surge in Afghan refugees.

Chaotic scenes have been witnessed following the Taliban's return to power earlier this week.

Afghan communities now living in Kent are said to be "traumatised" by what they have seen and heard from speaking to friends and family back home.

Read more: Met Office issues verdict on late August heatwave

The Taliban, a military group widely feared for their violence hard-line stances on everything from religious doctrine to women's rights, were ousted from power when Western forces invaded the country in 2001.

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But 20 years later they have retaken control following a devastating offensive.

It ended with major cities captured one by one in recent days, culminating in the fall of Kabul on Sunday.

Tragic scenes were beamed to the world from the capital soon after on Monday (August 16).

Thousands could be seen at the airport trying to flee, some even falling to their deaths from the undersides of planes they were clinging to.

People hold up their certificates acknowledging work for Americans as hundreds of people at Kabul airport

Ashford Borough Council was the first in Kent to announce its intention to support the expected increase in refugees needing support.

Today KentLive (August 18) asked every district, borough and city council in the county if they planned to also provide support and in what form.

Only around half responded to the enquiry.

What they said is below, ordered alphabetically by council name.

Ashford Borough Council

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are seeing a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding before our very eyes in Afghanistan. People there are in dire need of urgent assistance and Ashford is determined to do our bit to help.

“We must open our hearts to these people and with the experience we have gained welcoming and integrating our Syrian friends into local communities, no-one in the UK is better placed to give these people a safe haven and a new start.

“The support of council staff, local residents, voluntary organisations, private sector landlords and community and faith groups was absolutely crucial to enabling successful integration of our Syrian families and I am confident that Ashford will once again rise to the challenge of helping Afghan families to start new lives here in the heart of the Garden of England.”

Canterbury City Council

A spokesperson said: "We'll be playing a full role in this. We already have experience in this kind of initiative from the Syrian resettlement scheme that we ran successfully.

"Work is taking place to see if we can identify suitable properties in the private rented sector. Like Ashford, and most if not all local authorities, council homes won't be used here.

"We'll be keen to see the full details of the scheme from the government in due course, given it was only announced yesterday."

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint near the US embassy

Dartford Borough Council

Failed to comment.

Dover District Council

A spokesperson said: “Dover District Council has participated in previous resettlement schemes, including supporting Syrian refugees. We await further guidance from the Government on their plans for supporting refugees from Afghanistan.”

Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Failed to comment.

Gravesham Borough Council

Failed to comment.

Maidstone Borough Council

A spokesperson said: "Maidstone Borough Council has made a commitment to support the Afghan resettlement scheme and is working with colleagues from Kent County Council to accommodate those households leaving Afghanistan."

Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport

Medway Council

Failed to comment.

Sevenoaks District Council

Failed to comment.

Swale Borough Council

Leader of the council, Cllr Roger Truelove, said: “As a country we have a moral responsibility to help these who put themselves in danger to help British troops in Afghanistan, and Swale will gladly do our part.

“These people who provided essential support to our forces, mainly as interpreters, face potential torture and death for their support of our brave armed forces, and we believe that providing a safe place for a small number of families is the right thing to do.

“This is why we’re appealing to landlords – especially those who may not usually work with us – or anyone with a suitable property, to get in touch as soon as possible so we can do our part to keep these families safe.”

Thanet District Council

A spokesperson said: “We are keen to work with MHCLG and KCC to support the resettlement of Afghan families in accessing suitable accommodation and to offer settlement for some families in Thanet.“

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council

A spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we will be supporting the Afghan Citizens Resettlement scheme and are currently in discussions on how and when we can accept families within our borough. We currently have 10 families relocated to Tonbridge and Malling as part of existing refugee resettlement schemes."

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Failed to comment.

Original Article