Sheffield “will not simply stand by” in Afghanistan crisis say political leaders

Political leaders and councillors in Sheffield have described “heartbreaking scenes” in Afghanistan and urge that the city “will not simply stand by when people are in crisis”.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 4:18 pm

As of August 17, over 93,000 people have signed a petition calling on the UK Government to do more and to immediately identify more safe routes to sanctuary for Afghans.

Some councils across the UK have already said that they will welcome Afghan refugees into their cities and Sheffield council is currently assessing the situation.

Co-Operative executive members Alison Teal and Paul Wood who are responsible for the City response, said: "We are seeing terrible scenes in Afghanistan and as a city we will not simply stand by when people are in crisis. The situation is moving incredibly quickly and we are working with the Home Office, Migration Yorkshire and other councils in the region to understand what we can do at this stage – there are many decisions still to be made by the Government.

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Sheffield Town Hall. Picture Scott Merrylees

“Sheffield is a City of Sanctuary and we are supporting the Home Office’s Relocation Scheme for those who have supported UK troops in Afghanistan and now find their lives at risk. We do not know what will come next, and are awaiting more detail about the national response, but in Sheffield we will provide as much support as we can and we are reviewing the situation on a daily basis.”

Other leaders of Sheffield who have offered messages of support include Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam.

She tweeted: “The heartbreaking scenes in Kabul must be a reminder to us all: people fleeing violence & suffering should always be welcome here.”

She said unconditional amnesty for Afghans should be secured in the UK, and she told those living in her constituency who have family members trying to leave Afghanistan to get in touch, urging that “my team and I will do everything we can to help”.

Many have been horrified by the situation in Afghanistan with some describing it as “a worsening humanitarian catastrophe” if nothing is done.

Foreign secretary, Dominic Raab has said that ministers are working on a ‘bespoke’ resettlement scheme for vulnerable Afghans.

Currently the UK only has the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which supports Syrians, and was launched in January 2014 to help those in greatest need.