Leader of Merton Council, Cllr Mark Allison, said: “The situation unfolding in Afghanistan is shocking and distressing, and Merton residents will have watched in horror at the scenes on television coming from Kabul and other cities as the Taliban have taken over the country.
“Since the weekend I have been working closely with other London Labour councils on our response to this crisis. Merton is calling on the government to accelerate efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the many thousands of men, women and children who have been displaced, including safe and legal routes for Afghan refugees fleeing dangerous and chaotic circumstances triggered by the withdrawal of international military support from Afghanistan and advancing Taliban forces.
“London has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those in need, and we have concerns for the safety of Afghan women and girls and the long-term impact on children exposed to fear, violence and uncertainty.
“Afghan locally employed staff who have worked for British military forces and the British embassy have already started arriving with their families through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, and we will work closely with London’s Afghan community and our voluntary sector and national government partners to ensure Afghan refugees get the support they need to recover from the trauma they have lived through and start to rebuild their lives.
“Merton council has always opened its doors to help refugees fleeing unrest, as it did when finding homes for many Syrians during the crisis in 2015 following the civil war in that country. The re-settlement of refugees in local communities is a complex issue, and Britain’s plans to ultimately resettle around 20,000 Afghans over the next few years are being co-ordinated nationally by the Government. We stand ready to support and are awaiting guidance on how this will work across London boroughs.”