Afghans coming to the UK via the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme will benefit from an extra £5m investment for local councils to provide housing support.
Councils in England, Scotland and Wales will have access to a share of the funding to support Afghans who have worked for this country in Afghanistan, but who now face threats of persecution or worse.
Everyone arriving from Afghanistan will also be offered the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and rapid access to support for mental wellbeing.
So far, the UK has secured the evacuation of 1,615 people since Saturday, including 399 British Nationals and their dependants, 320 embassy staff, and 402 Afghan nationals under ARAP.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Our immediate focus is to evacuate the Afghans who risked their lives supporting us over the past twenty years and to whom we owe so much. We are proud to bring them to the UK, and this additional support will help make sure that those arriving from Afghanistan receive the housing and healthcare that they need as they start to build a new life here.
‘We will do everything we can in the days, weeks and months ahead to protect the most vulnerable, which is why we’re doubling our humanitarian aid to the region and setting up a new bespoke resettlement scheme to give up to 20,000 of those most in need of refuge here in the UK.’
Enhanced healthcare support will also be provided for Afghan refugees, including 24/7 access to medical provision, mental wellbeing support, reuniting family members who arrive on different flights where possible, allowing families to quarantine together, providing regular information check-ins with local services to prepare refugees for resettlement, providing toys to keep children entertained, and giving appropriate clothes for people in need.
This announcement will build on the health and wellbeing support already in place at managed quarantine hotels, including daily health and wellbeing checks, care links to local care providers, and a 24/7 on-site medical team.
Health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, said: ‘In response to this unfolding tragedy, we are committed to ensuring those who are being resettled here in the UK under our Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy have our full support.
‘As health secretary, my focus is on the health and wellbeing of families from the moment they touch down in the UK. I was very pleased today to be able to meet one such family who arrived recently and learn from their experience of the healthcare we have provided so far.
‘We are boosting our health and wellbeing services to evacuees during their 10 day quarantine. This includes giving everyone a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, if they have not already received one, doubling our medical provision to ensure everyone can access support round the clock and reuniting families who arrive on different flights where we can.’
Photo Credit: Matheus Ferrero