A number of Afghan families are to be placed in temporary accommodation in an Exmouth hotel.
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
The bridging accommodation is a temporary measure until individuals and families are found permanent, long term accommodation in locations across the country.
Up to 15 families are expected to move into the temporary accommodation over the coming week, consisting of individual adults and families with young children.
They will be placed there as part of the government’s refugee resettlement programme.
Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for communities, said: “All local authorities have been asked to help support with Afghan refugees who worked with and for our UK forces in Afghanistan and who were forced to leave their country as a result of the collapse of the country following withdrawal of US and UK forces.
“We have received notification from the Home Office that a group of these refugees will be placed temporarily in Exmouth as part of the Government’s national Afghan resettlement programme, pending their onward journey to long term accommodation, which could be anywhere in the country.
“We are working closely with our District and Town Council partners, NHS Devon, and local community and voluntary groups to make sure we are ready to welcome them.”
Cllr Steve Gazzard, chairman of Exmouth Town Council, added: “Local authorities across the country are being asked to step up and support this national effort to provide temporary accommodation as part of the re-settlement programme for Afghan families.
“Exmouth is a town with strong military connections and many of the refugees will have been working for our military services.
“Exmouth Town Council will do all it can to provide a safe environment for them to start the process of coming to terms with what has happened to them.”
Cllr Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: “East Devon District Council, along with other authorities in the area, will be working closely with the Home Office, which has helped a number of Afghan evacuees find emergency accommodation at an Exmouth hotel while further, more long-term, measures can be found.
“We will be offering as much support as we can to help the families who have lost their homes in such tragic circumstances. We would like to thank the Exmouth and wider East Devon communities, in advance, for their understanding, support and compassion for the men, women and children who have been offered sanctuary after living through some truly harrowing experiences.”
Councils across the UK have also been asked to help identify suitable long term accommodation for the resettlement scheme, and in Devon local appeals to private sector landlords have resulted in some potential homes being found.
The Afghan refugees, who worked with and for the UK forces in Afghanistan, are understood to have been flown into the country from the capital, Kabul, in the final days before flights out of the country were stopped by the new Taliban regime. Since then they have been living in quarantine hotels in London.
In Devon, district councils, which have responsibility for housing, are attempting to identify more long term accommodation specifically from private sector landlords, so that there is no impact on their local housing waiting lists.
Devon County Council is now working with local community groups and volunteers to ensure that, once refugees are found suitable accommodation in the county, support around them is available quickly to help them settle in, access local health services and education, and find employment if possible.