Rest of Asia

English lessons, vaccines, housing facility to resettle Afghans in UK

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on September 1, 2021

Millions of pounds have been allocated to provide them English lessons, education opportunities, medical facilities and other help.

The Boris Johnson government said on Tuesday that a significant cross-government effort, dubbed ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, is underway to ensure Afghans recently arrived in the United Kingdom (UK) receive the vital support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and integrate with local communities.

Millions of pounds have been allocated to provide them English lessons, education opportunities, medical facilities and other help, while many members of the public have offered a range of goods, services and accommodation to the new migrants.

The government announced that those coming through resettlement routes would receive immediate indefinite leave to remain, or permanent residency, without having to wait for the mandatory five years.

Afghans already relocated under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy will be able to apply free to convert their temporary leave into indefinite leave.

The UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said the policy would apply to Afghans who worked closely with the British military and the government in Afghanistan and risked their lives. Their efforts will ensure that they can now stay in the UK without any time restrictions.

To give children and young adults the best start in life the British government is making at least £12 (Dh60.80) million available to prioritise additional school places so children can be enrolled as soon as possible, and to provide school transport, specialist teachers and English language support to assist with learning.

Further funding will be provided for up to 300 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for Afghans at UK universities. While many speak English through their work with the UK government and British forces and as translators, language classes would ensure family members can fully integrate into local communities, officials said.

PM Johnson said: “We owe an immense debt to those who worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and I am determined that we give them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK. I know this will be an incredibly daunting time, but I hope they will take heart from the wave of support and generosity already expressed by the British public”.

Victoria Atkins, the newly appointed Afghan Resettlement Minister, said: “Operation Warm Welcome is a huge effort across government to make sure that those fleeing Afghanistan are able to make a success of a new life in the UK. The stability of indefinite leave, the security of access to healthcare and the opportunity of education are the foundation upon which those resettled to the UK can build.”

The UK's Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “This support package will help Afghan evacuees start a new life in the UK and I’m proud we are providing £3 (Dh15.20) million to ensure they receive the healthcare they need. This includes access to prescriptions, wound care and dressings, maternity care, mental health support and screening for infectious diseases. We will also offer the protection of a Covid-19 vaccination as they settle and rebuild.”

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