Wales demonstrates its united approach to welcoming Afghan arrivals as a Nation of Sanctuary
Written by Gavin on 10th September 2021
This week, Wales has passed a significant milestone in our efforts to provide sanctuary to Afghan nationals who have supported our Armed Forces. Wales is now accommodating 50 families, comprising approximately 230 individuals. The majority of those who have arrived have directly supported Wales-based and Wales-facing Armed Forces units in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.
A ‘Team Wales’ approach has ensured that collaborative multi-agency working has been delivered at pace to ensure Wales can truly embody our Nation of Sanctuary vision. This has involved the Welsh Government, Welsh Local Authorities, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Ministry of Defence, refugee support organisations and local Welsh Afghans themselves.
This is the latest example in the long history of Wales providing sanctuary for those seeking sanctuary. Welsh local authorities also continue to support the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the asylum system. This collaborative national approach will continue in the coming weeks to ensure additional families can be brought safely to Wales and integrate effectively with our communities.
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said:
“Today, we welcome the families and individuals that have served our country in Afghanistan. We have made clear our pledge of Wales being a Nation of Sanctuary and we’re committed to do all that is possible to ensure Afghan interpreters, refugees and their families are welcomed.
Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary – we will do all we can to provide a warm welcome in the short-term and our communities will, no doubt, be enriched by their skills and experiences in the very near future.
All local authorities in Wales are participating in these schemes and have offered their support and assistance to the Afghan citizens who are being resettled in the UK. I want to thank all of our partners in this collaborative Nation of Sanctuary approach to coordinate this significant undertaking. I also want to place on record my particular thanks to Urdd Gobaith Cymru for having the humanitarian vision to ensure we can provide a distinctly Welsh welcome for our new Afghan friends.”
Chief Executive of the Urdd, Sian Lewis said:
“This has been a huge team Wales effort across all sectors, and we are grateful to our partners for enabling us to open our doors as a refuge to families seeking shelter and safety.
As an organisation, we are proud to help and continue to share with our members the importance of loyalty to country and culture but also to humanity and a higher good.
We have a moral obligation as a national youth organisation to support humanitarian projects and offer a hand of friendship and support to the Afghan community in their time of need.”
Colonel Sion Walker, Deputy Commander 160th (Welsh) Brigade said:
“160th (Welsh) Brigade and its Joint Military Command (Wales) is structured to support Welsh Government and all local authorities when dealing with major situations as we have done throughout the COVID pandemic.
By supporting all those agencies involved in by cohering and refining the Wales plan, it has enabled them to focus on their key areas of responsibility and enabled the Wales plan to be pulled together in little over a week. There are direct historical links with Wales based and Wales facing units and members of many of those families coming to Wales.
They will have worked alongside each other during very difficult times in Afghanistan; our involvement is recognition of the support given and comradeships developed during those times and we are proud to have played a part in making Wales a nation of sanctuary.”
Leader of Cardiff Council, Huw Thomas said:
“These families have been forced to leave their homes in fear of their lives, while fleeing the Taliban. It’s hard for most of us to imagine just what they’ve been through. Cardiff Council has been working behind the scenes all along to ensure we were ready to play our part, alongside all our partners, in alleviating this terrible crisis.
Cardiff has a long and proud history of welcoming people of all races and creeds to our city and we will do everything in our power to ensure all of these families feel that welcome from day one of their arrival.
We welcome them all, knowing that they will soon become important and valued members of our vibrant, multi-cultural community.”