Dundee is ready to play its part in housing Afghan refugees after the country’s shock takeover by the Taliban, the city council’s leader has said.
Some 20,000 Afghans are to be welcomed to the UK in the next few years as part of an effort to protect innocent civilians wrapped up in the country’s crisis.
And John Alexander says the city will not turn a blind eye to the impending humanitarian disaster.
Welcoming Dundee ‘should help more refugees’
He has promised the council will do everything it can to find a home for what would likely only be handful of Afghans initially.
He said: “The situation in Afghanistan is another reminder of the huge toll that civilian populations, around the world, pay for the failure and actions of others.
“We cannot and must not just turn a blind eye because it’s not ‘in our back yard’.”
He added: “My morals and ethics define my approach to issues and this is one which I cannot turn my head to.
“We have stood up and been counted over decades.
“Most recently, we helped support some Syrian families who now call Dundee home.”
Fears for human rights of Afghan citizens
There are fears the rights of many Afghans — particularly women — will be lost when the Taliban exerts its ideology on the Central Asian nation.
Countries around the world are being urged to come up with a plan to protect them.
Desperation among the population saw thousands converge on Kabul Airport with some clinging on to US military planes on the runway.
At least seven people died after falling off the huge carriers, which were leaving the country’s capital after picking up US embassy staff and other officials.
Since 2015, Dundee has become home to around 50 families under the banner of the Dundee Humanitarian Protection Partnership.
Refugees, mostly from Syria, but also from Iraq, Ethiopia and Somalia have also arrived.
The schemes have been wholly funded by the UK Government’s Home Office.
Mr Alexander said the friendly and inclusive nature of locals makes it easier to pursue such schemes.
‘Grim situation’ after Taliban takeover
He said: “Dundee is a welcoming city.
“Yes, it has its issues but the vast majority of Dundonians understand and appreciate that saving human lives, wherever they are, is important.
“Our city has always had a strong track record in its (generally left leaning) views of having an outward looking, international approach and its attitude to welcoming people from across the world.
“To that end, I’ve instructed officers of Dundee City Council to identify options for supporting the Afghan refugee scheme (once defined by the Home Office).
“While the numbers will likely be small, if all councils play their part then we can genuinely and meaningfully support people facing a grim situation and potentially save lives in the process.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised that up to 5,000 Afghans can find refuge in the UK this year, with up to 20,000 in the longer term.
It came after almost 20 years of conflict between Western forces — led by the United States — and Taliban militants.