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Answers call on Afghan shelter plea

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Answers call on Afghan shelter plea

A CONCERNED councillor is demanding answers over why only one Afghan family has been given shelter in Dumfries and Galloway in the past 18 months.

Dougie Campbell, a former volunteer case worker with the Scottish Refugee Council, was delighted when Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed to house up to 20 families fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan.

That was back in September 2021. The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) has completely stalled since then.

Independent Councillor Campbell, pictured, who represents the Dee and Glenkens ward, will table a motion on the issue at the full council meeting, which he hopes will be supported by all councillors.

It reads: “Dumfries and Galloway Council notes that on September 23, 2021, a motion was agreed by members of full council to participate on the UK Government Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme following the withdrawal of UK forces from Afghanistan.

“It also notes its disappointment that only one family has been resettled in the region since that date, despite the council in conjunction with regional stakeholders, making provision for the resettlement of 20 families.

“According to a recent UK media report, only 22 Afghan citizens have been resettled in the UK under the ACRS.”

The motion calls on council convener Malcolm Johnstone to write to Home Secretary Suella Braverman seeking answers over the delay in bringing Afghan families in need to this region.

Councillor Campbell also wants the council to reaffirm its commitment to resettling Afghan citizens under the ARCS.

His motion, which has been seconded by Mid Galloway and Wigtown West Councillor Katie Hagmann, also denounces the UK Government over the controversial Illegal Migration Bill.

The bill will clamp down on asylum seekers travelling to the UK by irregular means, such as in small boats or hidden in the backs of lorries, by making all of these asylum claims ineligible for consideration in the UK.

However, legal experts have raised concerns about the bill’s compatibility with human rights law and the lack of a public consultation.

Councillor Campbell’s motion states: “Refugees resettled in the UK, including here in Dumfries and Galloway, by provision of a safe haven, have enriched our region culturally, socially and economically.”

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