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Advice for those affected by events in Afghanistan

Since the Taliban seized control of the country, many people have been forced to flee for their lives. Many more citizens want to leave Afghanistan and face an uncertain future.

Harrow has one of the largest British-Afghan communities in London and we know that many people locally are directly affected by these events and are understandably concerned for friends and family.

If you’re worried about anyone still in the country, please visit this GOV.UK webpage for the latest advice.

The council is working with local partners to help Harrow families concerned about loved ones and to manage enquiries from Afghan citizens who have relocated here recently.

We want to put arrangements in place that will help Afghans coming to Harrow to get back on their feet and access the information and support they need.

Share a donation to help Afghan refugees arriving in Harrow

 

Update – week ending 17th September 2021

Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

This week the Government provided further information about the Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, through which it has committed to welcome 5,000 Afghans in the first year and 20,000 subsequently.

This scheme, which is not yet live, will ‘prioritise those people who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their stand for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality, or religion.’

The Government have confirmed that funding is in place to provide services and support for people under ACRS for three years.

Newly arrived Afghans who aren’t under the ARAP scheme, may qualify for ACRS when it is introduced – giving access to the same kind of relocation support offered to ARAP citizens.

Access to relocation schemes as well as the visa status, right to work and access to services that go with them, can be jeopardised by leaving Home Office arranged accommodation.

Anyone in a holding hotel considering leaving that accommodation is strongly advised to speak to the Home Office first.

Access to benefits

A change in residency regulations on 15 September has given those arriving from Afghanistan, including UK nationals, access to income-related benefits, such as Universal Credit, from day one in this country.

Welfare helpline

The Government this week launched a welfare helpline for people who have been evacuated from Afghanistan and are staying in a hotel in the UK.

You can find it on this GOV.UK page, together with further useful immigration information.

Properties needed

If you’re a landlord, letting agent or housing association with an available rental property that could be used to house an Afghan family, we’d be interested to hear from you.

Please tell us the type of property, number of bedrooms and the rent charged by emailing [email protected] or leave a voicemail on 020 8424 1605.

Afghans who recently arrived in the UK

Many Afghans who fled the country are in temporary hotel accommodation. All should have access to a Home Office representative, usually based in the hotel in which they’re staying.

This person should be contacted for any welfare issues and for any further information about individual cases.

This Home Office representative can also clarify an individual’s entitlement to services in the UK and visa status.

The status of Afghans in the UK varies - those under the ARAP scheme (see below) have been given ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the country, but this has not been granted to all Afghan refugees.

Quite understandably, some people currently living in holding hotels will want to reconnect with family in this country.

Those looking to make their own arrangements though can risk losing access to services and visa entitlements.

Again, the Home Office can clarify on a case-by-case basis what the implications of such action will be.

Anyone in a holding hotel considering leaving that accommodation is strongly advised to speak to the Home Office first.

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)

This scheme is for Afghans who worked for the UK Government in Afghanistan and whose lives are now under threat.

The majority were helped to leave the country and like many others are now in temporary hotel accommodation, while local authorities, including Harrow, help to coordinate support for their long-term relocation.

Harrow Council, working with other local authorities and NHS partners, has arranged for ARAP citizens currently based in north west London to have access to doctors, prescription services and other health support.

This can be arranged via local Home Office representatives.

People in the scheme are strongly advised to accept the relocation offered by the Home Office. It is not possible for ARAP citizens to choose where they will be relocated and this may be to a part of the country where there isn’t an established Afghan community.

Refusing the Home Office’s offer risks losing access to services and visa entitlements. The Home Office can clarify when it will be possible for citizens subject to ARAP to move from their relocation destination without jeopardising visa status or entitlement to services.

Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme

The Government recently announced a further scheme intended to provide protection for Afghans at risk. This scheme is not currently live – available information can be found on the Government website.

Other sources of help

Afghan Association Paiwand Ltd

www.paiwand.com

0208 9058770

Run by and for the refugee community, Afghan Association Paiwand Ltd is a charity and community organisation in Edgware.

For the last 16 years, we have helped refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants to build a happy life in the UK.


Afghan Association of London (Harrow)

afghanassociationlondon.org.uk

020 8861 6990

The Association was established in 1995 to assist refugees with their integration into UK society. As a centre point for the community, the Association provides a wide range of support and advice.

The Association has assisted thousands of refugees to successfully integrate into the UK society.

Volunteering to help Afghans resettling in Harrow

The two organisations above, Afghan Association Paiwand Ltd and Afghan Association of London (Harrow), are working to support Afghan refugees across London.

Both welcome volunteers – call the numbers above or visit their websites to find out more.

Donating to help Afghans resettling in Harrow

Many families have fled Afghanistan with only the clothes they were wearing. Harrow Giving is working with established local charities who have the skills and expertise to help the refugees. 

Your donation will help provide emotional support and essential items, including toiletries, sanitary products, school uniforms, books, underwear and nappies to refugees arriving in Harrow and the surrounding area. 

Donate to Harrow Giving

 

The two local organisations above, Paiwand and the Afghan Association of London, work directly with Afghans who have recently arrived in the country.

They welcome donations of toiletries and items for babies, including nappies and powder milk formula. They have already received many generous donations of clothing and do not currently require any more.

If you’re considering donating something else, please check first that it meets the needs of the new arrivals they are working with.

Contact Paiwand regarding a donation (via text or WhatsApp) on 07453 850122. Speak to Afghan Association on 0208 9058770

Both organisations welcome cash donations. These go directly to Afghan refugees living in temporary accommodation in the UK.

Many new arrivals do not have any money – your donations can help put cash in their pockets, so that they can buy essential items for themselves.

Donate to Paiwand.

Donate to Afghan Association of London (use reference: new arrivals).

Published: 10th September 2021