Afghan refugees would receive 'warm welcome' in Suffolk and north Essex
- Credit: PA
Suffolk and north Essex "stand ready" to support Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban after the government announced plans to rehome 20,000 people from the country.
As many as 5,000 people from Afghanistan could be rehomed in the first year of the scheme, which was announced after the Taliban seized control of the country.
The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will target women, children and others who have been forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government will do "everything possible to provide support to the most vulnerable fleeing Afghanistan so they can start a new life in safety in the UK".
Fears have been raised that the Taliban will bring in a brutal regime, with women losing many of the rights they have enjoyed over the past two decades with Western troops in control.
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Martin Simmonds, of Suffolk Refugee Support, welcomed the government's decision and said the charity was prepared to support refugees when they arrive.
He said: "We have worked with Afghan refugees for more than 20 years and have seen and heard about the horrors of life under the Taliban.
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"So, like everyone, we are shocked but sadly not surprised by the current scenes of desperation as people attempt to flee and we know that the scale of displacement, suffering and need will be great.
"We welcome the UK government’s commitment to a new resettlement scheme to allow 20,000 Afghan refugees to rebuild their lives in safety over the next five years.
"We have seen how the Syrian resettlement scheme - which this is based on - has transformed lives and enriched our local community, and we stand ready to continue providing a warm welcome and whatever support is needed to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan here in Suffolk."
Sue Lissimore, Colchester borough councillor, added: "We are working with the Home Office, Essex County Council and Essex Integration to help a number of former Afghan interpreters and other skilled support staff and their families resettle in the UK.
"We will be supporting them to find accommodation in the private rented sector across Essex, linking them up with health and support services, etc and generally assisting them to integrate into the local community."