Current situation in Suffolk – We continue to provide support to Afghan families and individuals arriving across Suffolk under the UK’s Afghan resettlement schemes. A number of families have arrived, with more expected over the coming weeks and months. We are providing a warm welcome and orientation, volunteer support, English assessments, access to health services, employment support and assistance getting children into school. We have supported a number of people to find employment remarkably quickly, while others are making excellent progress in their English language skills and taking part in community activities such as our sewing group.
We are extremely grateful for all the amazing offers of support and generous gestures that we continue to receive. Our friends at FORS (Friends of Refugees Suffolk) have put together welcome packs and other wonderful local groups have collected toys and art materials. We are not taking any further donated items at the moment while we assess people’s needs. We will put out appeals on our Facebook page as and when we need items or extra volunteer support.
We continue to provide additional support to our existing Afghan clients, including families we have worked with for some time and more recently arrived Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASCs). Some have family members missing or under direct threat in Afghanistan. We hear reports of relatives living in hiding and moving from house to house to evade capture by the Taliban, This is compounded by the humanitarian crisis in the country, with millions of people at immediate risk of severe malnutrition or starvation. We are providing up-to-date information and guidance, as well as a sympathetic ear, listening to people’s fears, worries and even feelings of guilt for loved ones in danger back home.
We know that the scale of displacement, suffering and need created by recent events is already great and will only increase. We stand ready to provide a warm welcome and are committed to giving long term support to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan here in Suffolk, however they arrive and whatever their needs.
How you can help – Demand for our specialist services is extremely high as a result of this terrible situation, so the most practical way to support our long term work with refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere is to make a donation. We are a small, independent charity and anything you can give will make a real difference. You can find details of how to donate here: https://suffolkrefugee.org.uk/what-you-can-do/donate/
You can also sign up to our mailing list here in order to receive updates and the latest refugee news in Suffolk automatically.
The resettlement schemes are being organised through central government and local authorities. If you might be able to help, for instance, if you are a landlord and can offer an entire property to let, or you would like to register an offer of help, you can find further information and a dedicated email address for Suffolk County Council here.
Further background info – Some of the first people we worked with at Suffolk Refugee Support when we started in 1999 were Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban regime in power at the time, including a doctor we supported in our very early days who is now a senior GP and medical advisor to NHS England. We have supported hundreds of Afghan people and their families since then, while others have been friends, staff colleagues, volunteers, or served on our Board of Trustees. We remember the cardiologist who sat in our waiting room kissing a photo of the wife and children he had lost, the young woman who had not left her house in three years for fear the Taliban would force her into marriage, and colleagues who were persecuted for being members of the Hazara ethnic minority. Without exception they have been dignified, polite, warm, generous, honest and resilient. We have shared with them their hopes and fears for the future of their country, and to see the Taliban back in power and yet more innocent Afghans uprooted and fleeing for their lives is heartbreaking. We hope the basic wish of the Afghan people for peace and freedom will one day soon be realised.
You can watch the powerful testimony of one Afghan refugee in Suffolk here, and read about the fears and concerns of an Afghan man we work with in Ipswich who interpreted for the British Army here.