Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North
Nov
5

AFGHAN RESETTLEMENT: OPERATION WARM WELCOME UPDATE

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 05 November 2021 12:03

It is now two months since Operation Pitting, the UK's urgent evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan, was completed. In those two weeks in August, our armed forces, diplomats and civil servants worked in danger to orchestrate the largest emergency evacuation in recent history, flying around 15,000 people to safety in the UK.

Since then, the Government have offered sanctuary, food, healthcare, schooling and support to thousands of Afghan people across the country, with the help of councils, hotels, health services, schools, charities and the British public.

In fact, Norfolk County Council recently confirmed seven private rented homes have been put forward to the Home Office to house Afghan refugees, with negotiations still under way on several more. Under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, Norfolk had been expecting to resettle 50 people and their families who supported the military, 19 of whom are in the county already.

The Home Office has moved around 11,000 people who needed bridging accommodation into hotels on a full-board basis, issued cash cards (‘Aspen cards’) to help with day-to-day costs and placed Hotel Liaison Officers in each hotel to provide information and support to Afghans. Work is now underway to deliver the Prime Minister’s pledge of Indefinite Leave to Remain for everyone who is eligible.

Through local Job Centres and work coaches, the Department for Work and Pensions has set up operations in bridging hotels to complete Universal Credit claims, issue thousands of National Insurance Numbers and hold Jobs Fairs to facilitate employment offers for those who are ready to work. Around 200 people have already been offered jobs and that number will increase as more people settle.

Thanks to schools, councils and the Department for Education (DfE), the majority of children are in school or in the process of being placed in school. This is vital for children to assimilate quickly. Last week, DfE announced that £126 million is to be invested in laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children in England, including 6,000 devices for Operation Pitting children.

The largest task remains the provision of long-term accommodation. The emergency circumstances of Operation Pitting meant that the Government were not able to secure long term accommodation for people as they would have liked before they flew to the UK. The Department for

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is working with councils, devolved administrations and the private housing sector to identify long-term homes for Afghans.

Finally, for those Afghan nationals who still wish to leave Afghanistan, I believe that international co-operation is essential in this area and therefore welcome the fact that the UK Government is working with international partners to develop a system to identify those most at risk and resettle them, ensuring help goes to those that need it.

I will continue to monitor the situation extremely closely over the coming days and weeks.

I hope you find this information is helpful, and if I can help constituents with any matter, please do email me on chloe@chloesmith.org.uk or ring my constituency office on 01603 414756

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