Afghan crisis: Statement from Norfolk County Council

The leader of Norfolk County Council has made the following statement about its plans for settling Afghan refugees:

The situation in Afghanistan is very difficult and changing rapidly and the whole world will need to judge the Taliban on what they do, not what they say as they take over governing their country.

Cllr Plant was quoted in the EDP on 18 August in response to questions from the media.

We now have a few more details with last week’s announcement from the Government of the new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme being launched. The scheme will welcome up to 5,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK in its first year, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long-term. Norfolk County Council will work closely with the Government and partners to ensure that Norfolk accommodates a share of these refugees.  It will be our job to ensure that the new resettlement scheme ensures new arrivals get the support they need to settle into their new communities as well as taking into account ongoing pressures from other existing schemes.

We now have further details of the scheme from MHCLG set out in the attached letter from Robert Jenrick.

Norfolk has a proud record of offering support to refugees. Along with our supporting city, district and borough councils, Norfolk was among the first localities to offer to support the resettlement of Afghan nationals under the government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), launched on 1 April this year, and a number of Afghan nationals are already receiving support right here in the county.

We will continue to work with city, district and borough councils and private housing providers to accommodate new arrivals from Afghanistan and provide any social care and other support that’s required.

It is important to understand that when we welcome these individuals and families to Norfolk, it includes a commitment to help them settle here and to build a new life. While accommodation is a first step, our People from Abroad Team go far beyond that in helping refugees that arrive in Norfolk. There have already been offers from members of the community to help with this and the team will assess those offers.

We have already assisted over 150 Syrian refugees to successfully settle in Norfolk since 2017 and will use the skills and experience this provided to make the transition for arriving Afghan nationals as smooth as possible.

We will also continue our work with unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Norfolk, which was praised recently by Vicky Ford, the Minister for Children, who visited Norwich earlier this month to learn more. She highlighted the ‘moral leadership’ of NCC in this area.

We have sought to answer some of the questions you may have below. As more information is provided by the Home Office or MHCLG we will continue to keep you updated.

Andrew Proctor                                                    Tom McCabe

Leader of the Council                                        Head of Paid Service

Will Norfolk receive more Afghan nationals for resettlement?

Yes. We are proud of our county’s role in welcoming Afghans under the government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), and are ready to welcome more under the government’s new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme

How many Afghan nationals are expected to be resettled in Norfolk?

Under the original ARAP, launched on 1 April 2021, Norfolk expected to welcome a total of 50 individuals. Given the new government scheme and the events in Afghanistan over the past week, we expect that number to increase.

At this stage, we don’t know what the final total will be. The government has announced that the new scheme will welcome up to 5,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK in its first year, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long term.

When will these Afghan nationals arrive in Norfolk?

19 of the 50 individuals Norfolk expected under the original ARAP are already here in Norfolk and receiving support, with the remaining expected over the next month. In terms of additional Afghans arriving under the new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, we are awaiting further details from the Home Office.

Where will these Afghan nationals be settled in Norfolk?

Afghan nationals arriving under the original ARAP are being resettled in the Greater Norwich area, in locations that fall under the Norwich City, Broadland and South Norfolk council areas. This is due to the presence in this area of a local Afghan community and facilities to support new arrivals to build a new life.

While we anticipate additional Afghans arriving in Norfolk under the new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme to be settled in a similar area, exact details will be agreed once we receive further details from the Home Office, including on local numbers.

How will work on resettlement be funded?

All of the work of our People from Abroad Team in supporting Afghan nationals, and previously Syrian nationals, settling in Norfolk is funded by Grant Funding from the Home Office. The letter from MHCLG gives details of funding available to local authorities under the new scheme.