Support package will welcome Afghan refugees with open arms

The families of Afghan interpreters who have fled the Taliban to the UK will be offered free English courses as part of a comprehensive package to help them settle in their new home.

More than 8,000 Afghans and their families have been evacuated from Kabul airport since August 13 under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme.

And a new programme dubbed Operation Warm Welcome, overseen by Victoria Atkins who will become Afghan resettlement minister, aims to deliver all the refugees need to help them integrate into British society.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “For those who have left their homes with no more than a small bag of belongings, and in fear for their lives, coming to the UK will no doubt have been a daunting experience, but also one of hope for the future.

“I am determined that we welcome them with open arms and that my Government puts in place the support they need to rebuild their lives. We will never forget the brave sacrifice made by Afghans who chose to work with us, at great risk to themselves. We owe them, and their families, a huge debt.”

Operation Warm Welcome will be modelled on a similar scheme put in place for Syrian refugees and will include ensuring access to health and education services, as well as support into work and accommodation.

A central hub will also be created where organisations and individuals can register to give their support, after an outpouring of offers to support those coming to the UK.

This could be volunteering, jobs, professional skills, trauma support, or donations.

And free English lessons will also be provided as although many of those Afghans coming to the UK may have good English skills through working as interpreters, their families may not.

It comes after all UK troops and diplomatic personnel were pulled out of Kabul on Saturday, marking the end of the evacuation effort.

Ms Atkins, who alongside her new role remains as minister for safeguarding, said: “It is a source of great national pride that the UK steps up to support those in need. We owe so much to the people of Afghanistan who worked side by side with us.

“I look forward to helping them, their families and other vulnerable people whom we resettle over the coming years to recover from their trauma and build a new life here.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “This week we have all seen the relief on the faces of those who have made it from Afghanistan to safety here in the UK.

“Our message to those who have already arrived, welcome – we are glad you are here and you will be treasured members of our communities.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub