London boroughs are responding to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan after Taliban militants returned to power following the withdrawal of US and UK troops after 20 years of war.
At least 27 London borough councils have offered to support and resettle Afgan families fleeing the country, from accommodation and local support to counselling and school places.
The cross-party London councils group said that the “majority” London boroughs want to help and are willing to take up to 152 families via the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
More offers from London boroughs are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Deputy Chair of London Councils and Executive member for Housing and Planning, said: “We have all seen videos and photos of the terrifying situation in Afghanistan right now.
“People who once helped UK and US Armed Forces are living in constant fear of persecution and death. This is a humanitarian crisis, and we all need to do our bit to help – as individuals, as a city, and as a country.”
He added: “Boroughs are offering to support as many families as they can while managing existing pressures and priorities.
“We do this standing shoulder to shoulder with councils across the country, contributing to the overall national response.
“We are also working closely with the Government and the Mayor of London to ensure the funding is in place to properly support the health, education, housing and social integration of Afghan arrivals, in line with previous resettlement programmes.
“We know many Londoners wish to do something for the scared, exhausted families coming to our city.
“Right now, the best way to help is to donate to your local food bank and contact your local volunteer centre.”
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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set out plans so London councils can buy homes to resettle Afghan refugee families.
Mr Khan is expanding his new Right to Buy-back fund to help councils buy homes and encourage housing associations to apply for funding for suitable homes that can be available as quickly as possible.
London councils can submit bids to the Mayor’s newly expanded Right to Buy-back fund, which allows them to repurchase former council homes from the private sector.
Mr Khan has welcomed the Government’s commitment to resettle up to 20,000 Afghan refugees but added: “I will continue to call on Ministers to provide the further support needed to help them secure their long-term future in our city.”