Gateshead gives refuge to dozens of Afghans
Gateshead has taken in dozens of Afghans, new figures show.
The figures come as a humanitarian organisation has warns the Government is failing vulnerable Afghan refugees.
In response to the Taliban retaking control of the country, the Government launched two schemes to relocate Afghan citizens in 2021 and 2022.
These schemes have a particular focus on helping those who worked with the UK during the war in Afghanistan, and vulnerable groups.
New figures from the Home Office show more than 20,000 Afghans fleeing the conflict have settled in the UK through the two schemes, at the end of June.
Of them, 73 lived in Gateshead – the same number as were living in the area in March.
Campaigners and charities have criticised both schemes – branding them too slow to process applications.
The International Rescue Committee UK said the numbers “reveal the shocking reality of the Government’s failure to provide protection for vulnerable Afghans”.
For comparison, the Homes for Ukraine scheme – which offers temporary accommodation to Ukrainians escaping the Russian invasion – has seen more than 120,000 arrivals across the UK since it launched by the end of June.
This included 146 due to stay with hosts in Gateshead.
Laura Kyrke-Smith, executive director of the International Rescue Committee said: “In pushing forward the Illegal Migration Act, the Government time and time again assured concerned Parliamentarians and the British public that there existed ‘safe routes’ for refugees from countries like Afghanistan.
“These statistics show that these routes simply aren’t matching the scale of the need. Instead, the majority of the almost 10,000 Afghans seeking safety in the UK were forced to make dangerous journeys across the Channel.”
Separate Home Office figures show at least 1,474 Afghan nationals arrived in the UK in small boats from January to June.
The International Rescue Committee called on the Government to “urgently deliver on its commitments to eligible Afghans waiting to find safety in the UK.”
There were 6,575 Afghans in hotels or serviced accommodation by the end of June – half of whom were children, figures show.
They were given a deadline to leave hotels by the end of August – Cabinet Office minister Johnny Mercer admitted earlier this month that the announcement had been controversial, but said it had been made “with compassion in mind” to get people into permanent accommodation.
The Home Office said it is continuing to work to locate and help those at risk settle in the UK.
A spokesperson said: “No one should be risking their lives by crossing the Channel or taking dangerous and illegal routes to reach the UK – there are safe and legal routes to come here.
“The number of Afghans which the UK has committed to resettling under the ACRS scheme is generous, and greater than many of our international counterparts.”