Statement: Supporting Afghan refugees

We’ve all been horrified watching the images from Afghanistan. Every day on our screens we see people desperately trying to flee from a situation that will put their lives at risk.

Yesterday, 31 August, the leader of the council, Councillor Peter Mason and myself met with representatives of Afghan support organisations and senior council officers to better understand the support that is available and how we can get that support to those who need it.

Ealing is a diverse and welcoming borough that prides itself on welcoming all people regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

We are a borough that lives by the motto ‘deeds not words’ and that is why we have already welcomed our first families under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) to our borough and promise to support them as they establish themselves here in the UK. As well as the support we are giving as a council, these families are being welcomed and supported by Ealing’s vibrant Afghan community.

Ealing is a compassionate borough. We saw this when the Syrian crisis unfolded when our communities, faith groups and voluntary sector pulled together to help refugees from that conflict. We saw it again when we helped to get children out of the terrible conditions at the Calais camps. And most recently our communities came together to support one another during the covid 19 pandemic.

We want Ealing, once again, to be an example of what a local council can do, working closely with our communities, and all our partner organisations, despite the challenges and pressures placed upon us by ten years of austerity. We will provide a warm welcome to Afghan refugees as they start to build a new life here. This government needs to do more to bring refugees to safety here and to support councils who want to play their part. We in Ealing and our communities will step up and do our bit.

Already we are being inundated with offers of support from local residents. We will say more about what you can do to help as more Afghan refugees arrive in the borough.

But right now, any Ealing resident who wants to help, can do so by donating to charities on the ground in Afghanistan such as the International Red Cross and by reaching out to the local organisations on our dedicated web page, who are supporting Afghan refugees in West London. This will be updated to keep you all informed of the best way to help out.

Thank you for your care and compassion, and for wanting to make Ealing a welcoming place for those fleeing oppression and danger.