A tense welcome for new Afghan arrivals from Britain | Refugees

Refugee charities and Afghan community organizations are struggling to keep up with the demand for their services, with thousands of refugees arriving in the UK in recent days.

For the fourth day in a row, around 600 Afghan refugees, including unaccompanied minors, lined the streets of any business park in West London for access to clothing, translation services and advice. in immigration matters.

In Feltham, West London, Afghans have arrived at the Association for Afghanistan and Central Asia (ACAA) in search of basic and citizen counseling services, either for themselves or on behalf of friends and family.

“People cry, they are moved, they worry about their loved ones,” explains Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi, director of the ACAA. “There is a lot of anxiety and frustration in the community and people are worried about what this means for the future of Afghanistan.

Nasimi, himself a refugee who fled the Taliban with his young family in 1999, created ACAA in 2001. “I got in the back of a truck in a refrigerated container. When I arrived in the UK I faced many challenges. I realized that there was a strong need for community services to support other people who are in the same situation.

Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi, founder of the Afghan and Central Asian Association, which supports refugees in Feltham, west London. Photography: Stefan Rousseau / PA

Nasimi says the most pressing problem is the lack of English skills among the Afghan population, which means many cannot apply for social security, enroll with their local GP, or enroll their children in school. “Everything was new, everything was different and it is true for the people who arrive this week,” he said.

Located just a mile east of Heathrow Airport, where scores of refugees have arrived in recent days, the association is overwhelmed, especially as the evacuation was severely disrupted by a suicide bombing Thursday, which left at least 182 dead.

“We’re just a small organization and we don’t have the resources. Imagine if we didn’t have this army of volunteers, what would happen to the hundreds of people lining up outside at 5am? “

Within the association, a community center and counseling clinic, Nasimi helps people contact relatives in Afghanistan and bring family members – many of whom are at risk of Taliban retaliation – to the UK. For many, desperation is just beginning, especially because they have not heard from their relatives who have been in Afghanistan for several days.

The Defense Ministry confirmed on Saturday that the last British evacuation flight reserved for Afghan nationals had left Kabul airport, with ministers conceding that at least 1,100 Afghan nationals would not be deported in time.

Helped by 30 volunteers, the ACAA is doing its best to coordinate donations, transporting essential supplies from Feltham to airport hotels where many Afghan arrivals are in 10-day quarantine. It is uncertain how and where the 10,000 or more Afghans resettled in the UK will be accommodated this year.

The association has also supported dozens of unaccompanied minors in recent days, helping them access a host family. Nasimi says one of the organization’s most important roles is to help recruit host families from the Afghan community.

Local MP Seema Malhotra was in attendance on Friday, but the ACAA received no formal support from the national government or local authority Hounslow.

Nasimi adds: “I am really disappointed that we have not had any support from the Home Office so far. “

British government said it will “work with stakeholders, including devolved administrations and local councils, to ensure that Afghans rebuilding their lives in the UK have the support they need.”

Nooralhaq’s son, Darius Nasimi, 22, a graduate of King’s College London, is one of the volunteers helping his father provide immigration and welfare advice to the Afghan community.

“The whole family contributed, gave advice and sorted out the donations,” said Darius, who was born in Odessa, Ukraine, as his family traveled across Europe to the UK.

The organization depends on volunteers to distribute essentials, he said, and they are especially in need of clothes, toys and toiletries that they can give to those in need. But without a qualified legal advisor, Darius adds that there is only some help the organization can provide.

“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is devastating and we depend on volunteers, without the resources we need to support the new arrivals,” he said.

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