Luton community's support for Afghan refugees 'overwhelming' and 'humbling'
A number of people fleeing Taliban rule arrived in Luton last Friday morning and are now being helped
A senior Luton councillor says the town's initial response to the plight of Afghan refugees has been "humbling" as he reveals the council has been overwhelmed by offers of support from the community.
The council has previously stated it was getting ready to act to assist the people of Afghanistan who wished to seek asylum in the UK after the Taliban took control last month, but that it was awaiting instructions from the government on what the local requirements might be.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Cllr Aslam Khan, Deputy Leader of Luton Council, said: "Since our earlier statement concerning the plight of Afghan refugees we have been overwhelmed, but not surprised, by so many offers of practical support and help from the people of Luton. To witness such an outpouring spirit of generosity and love is humbling."
Cllr Khan pointed out that Afghan refugees have been received in towns and cities all across the UK and revealed "a number" had arrived in Luton last Friday morning.
He said: "We would like to reassure residents they are being accommodated in a location where, after all they have been through, they can feel secure and where the necessary health, care and safeguarding checks have been carried out. Despite the obvious trauma they have gone through, all are safe and well.
"Within hours of their arrival in Luton we were able to purchase a range of items to cater for the immediate needs of the refugees who are currently undergoing quarantine. Along with many items handed over from the voluntary sector this has added reassurance to those still processing the dreadful anxiety of the past few weeks.
"We have also been in constant communication with Home Office colleagues, who are responsible for the refugees’ ongoing housing needs, to offer further assistance where necessary and practicable.
"Once the 10 day isolation period is over, future homes will be identified by the Home Office in locations across the country. Given the nationwide influx of people from Afghanistan it is possible they will remain in Luton for a further period of time, but we await clarity on this and other issues from the government."
He continued: "We are so grateful to everyone who has already given so generously. Our amazing voluntary and community sector organisations who have already been working with other refugee groups from hostile situations have once again responded with their usual compassion and efficiency.
"In addition individuals and groups from as far afield as Leighton Buzzard and St Albans have responded quickly to this particular crisis. At the moment we have enough clothing and can no longer take donations at Chaul End Community Centre, but the foodbank is still able to receive items."
He said a “Support for refugees” JustGiving page has been set up by a number of local charities, adding "Money raised will go to support Afghans during their stay in Luton and provide support which could range from essential items to language skills, family support and community integration. To give, please go to https://justgiving.com/campaign/refugees"When we receive further information from the accommodation provider as to the current needs of these refugees and how people might help them we will make this available."