Afghans flee Taliban to UK, with charities on-hand for support | Gazette – Gazette

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Colchester 16°c
Councils and charities braced to support Afghan nationals
Organisations and charities throughout Colchester are preparing to receive Afghan nationals who are fleeing as the country is taken over by the Taliban.
It was announced late last week that 600 British troops had been deployed to bring UK nationals – as well as Afghan staff and interpreters – back to the UK.
It has meant that Colchester Council, Essex County Council, and the Home Office have together been preparing to help Afghan families live in the UK.
It has also fallen on charities to assist people fleeing Afghanistan, with the Colchester branch of Refugee Action working round the clock in readiness to help newcomers overcome the challenge of starting their lives again in a foreign country.
The charity, which has supported people from over 70 different countries, helps asylum seekers find temporary accommodation, as well as adapt to a new society.
Isobel Lockwood, a case worker at Refugee Action, explained how the charity works.
She said: “The lives of people who are asylum seekers here are in a state of limbo, so we help them with lots of different things.”
“We help people access mental health support, further education, housing, benefits, as well as make family reunion applications.”
But she adds that the charity has gone into overdrive in recent days, with individuals still in Afghanistan sending panicked messages to relatives who have already escaped to Colchester, amongst other parts of the UK.
 “Things have been really intense,” Miss Lockwood said.
“We have had client’s family members sending photos of Taliban militants standing outside their house.”
“But unless you’re in the UK, you can’t claim asylum,” she added.
“All the people still in Afghanistan are trying to fly can only claim asylum if they actually get to the UK.”
Read more:
• Colonel Richard Kemp says Afghanistan withdrawal is ‘grave mistake’
• Sir Bob Russell hits out at Government over Afghanistan situation
• British troops from Colchester in Afghanistan to help UK nationals
Meanwhile, Colchester Council released a statement via Councillor Sue Lissimore, the Deputy Leader of Colchester Council, who outlined the numerous forms of assistance which will be offered to help Afghans fleeing the Taliban start their lives again in the UK.
She said: “We are working with the Home Office, Essex County Council and Essex Integration to help a number of former Afghan interpreters and other skilled support staff and their families resettle in the UK.
“We will be supporting them to find accommodation (in the private rented sector) across Essex, linking them up with health and support services, and generally assisting them to integrate into the local community,” she added.
“These are professional people who have risked their lives helping to support our forces’ efforts in Afghanistan and we are pleased to help them start to rebuild their lives in the UK.”
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