A statement has been issued from Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett and Councillor Sharmina August, Lead Member for Inclusive Economy, Anti-Poverty and Equalities at Salford City Council on the crisis in Afghanistan.
City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “It is devastating to watch the scenes from the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and our thoughts are with all the people affected by it at this critical time.
“In Salford we absolutely welcome the UK government’s decision to support Afghan refugees and asylum seekers. It is morally the right thing to do - to help people in such a desperate situation. It is a fundamental human right that people should have peace, food, water and a safe place to sleep.
“Although we support the UK government in this resettlement, we ask that they do it properly and commit financial support so we can support people properly. We cannot be kneejerk in our approach, it has to be a countrywide approach with the Immigration Minister using their powers to mandate the widening of dispersals across the country so all councils play their part in supporting those caught up in the humanitarian crisis.
“This is not just about words, it has to be done correctly as services are already very stretched after 10 years of government austerity and local government cuts. Whilst the government have increased the funding package to encourage participation, £10,500 per individual for 12 months support is a short term fix and does not begin to tackle the medium to longer term support that refugees will need to adjust to a new life in the UK. We all know that the UK is experiencing one of the worst housing crisis, with many areas facing a huge lack of affordable and appropriate accommodation. It is clear that local authorities will need a comprehensive support package funded adequately by government.”
Councillor Sharmina August continued: “People fleeing such violence and fear need total help – wrap around support to get them through the darkest days of their lives. They will need housing, food, mental health support and help from many other services. We must make sure we do not let these people down and provide what they require. I reiterate what Paul said – local authorities cannot support these people alone, we need financial support from government.
“In Salford we offer a warm place for people to temporarily settle, to build successful lives and move on from the scenes and fear they have fled from.
“This is not just about today, we have a very, very proud history of stepping up to help those in need. In Greater Manchester we accommodate approximately 6,000 asylum seekers at any given time. Salford is very diverse with people from lots of different backgrounds and experiences – it is what makes the city such an amazing place.
“To all the people arriving in Salford I would like to say you are very welcome here. We will make you feel at home and help you all we can.”