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Afghanistan news – live: Councils ‘left in dark’ over refugee housing plan as Raab visits Pakistan

UK will not recognise Taliban, Dominic Raab says

Thousands of Afghans evacuated to Britain are set to be placed in temporary hotel accommodation for an indefinite period as local councils say they have been “left in the dark” as to a government housing plan.

The Home Office said on Wednesday that permanent housing has been secured for 2,000 refugees — meaning homes have not yet been found for 6,000 people who arrived in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme.

“Many councils are ready to help but we are in the dark about what it is precisely that government wants us to provide,” Cllr David Touane, of South Oxfordshire District Council, said. “We need detail not headlines, involvement not directive, and long-term commitment rather than short-term headlines.”

A government spokesperson said: “We have made £5m available to local authorities to support in housing costs. Arrivals will have to stay in hotels upon arrival to complete mandatory quarantine and we aim to move them into long-term accommodation as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, foreign secretary Dominic Raab is set to arrive in Pakistan as part of a push to help stranded Britons and Afghans stuck in the country to leave. He will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the visit, which has been billed to last two days.

Thousands of Afghans who aided British efforts in Afghanistan and their families are feared to be trapped in the country. Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that he hopes evacuations from Kabul will be possible again in future, but that this likely depends on engagement with the Taliban and collaboration among other powers.

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UK will provide £30 million aid package to stranded refugees

Shelters and sanitation facilities for Afghans who have fled the country but are stranded without permanent housing will be provided as part of a £30 million UK aid package, the foreign secretary has said.

£10 million is expected to be made available to humanitarian organisations to bring supplies to refugees in the countries bordering Afghanistan.

On a visit to the region, Dominic Raab stressed the importance of these “life-saving supplies”.

“They will provide Afghans who have left everything behind with essential kit offering shelter and basic sanitation as they seek to pick up the pieces of their lives.” he said.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:40

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Refugees to be taught about ‘British values’, reports say

Afghan refugees settling in the UK are to be taught about ‘British culture and values’ and receive English language tuition, reports say.

The programme would be aimed at introducing new settlers into the workforce as quickly as possible and demonstrating that Britain has its own “values and rules”, according to communities secretary Robert Jenrick.

“We’re looking at how can we have an enhanced level of English-language training, how can we ensure people will get into the workplace as quickly as possible and how can we comprehensively introduce people to British culture, civic and political life, increasing people’s knowledge and understanding of the country and its values, so they can contribute fully to British life,” he told The Times.

‘We want to warmly welcome and support Afghan families, particularly those who stood shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces, while being clear that the UK is a country with its own values and rules.”

The programme would reportedly expand on the policies already in place for newcomers to the UK.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:23

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Raab: UK must have ‘direct engagement’ with the Taliban

Britain will not recognise the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, but will start to engage with the Islamist group on issues such as evacuating people from the country, the foreign secretary has said.

Dominic Raab spoke of a need to “adjust to the new reality” during a visit to Doha in Qatar, where the UK has transferred its Kabul embassy.

“We will not be recognising the Taliban. But we do see the need to be able to have direct engagement, otherwise we can’t provide messages, we can’t listen to the response,” he said.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:04

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Refugees to be held in hotels indefinitely as councils left ‘in dark’ over housing plan

Thousands of Afghans evacuated to Britain in recent weeks are set to be placed in temporary hotel accommodation for an indefinite period as local councils say they have been left “in the dark” about how they can help.

Charities warn that the mental health of already traumatised people is likely to suffer as a result of the use of hotels, and that this will be exacerbated by the lack of information given to them about when and where they will be permanently housed.

The lack of clarity was causing “unnecessary worrying and anxiety,” to new arrivals, said one charity working with refugees.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 07:40

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Raab to visit Pakistan to push for evacuations

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is set to visit Pakistan as part of a push to help Britons and Afghans stuck in Afghanistan to leave the country.

Mr Raab is set to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the two-day visit.

Thousands of Afghans who aided British efforts in Afghanistan and their families are feared to remain trapped.

Although preliminary evacuation efforts have ended, the prime minister hopes that more people will be able to leave Kabul in future, which he says likely depends on engagement with the Taliban and collaboration between other powers.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 07:26

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Taliban to rely on funds from China, spokesperson says

The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday that Afghanistan will rely primarily on financing from China after the withdrawal of foreign troops and its takeover of the country.

Mr Mujahid told an Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the group will fight for an economic comeback with the help of China. He was quoted saying in the interview: “China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country.”

Mr Mujahid also emphasised that China is “our pass to markets all over the world.”

He also urged other nations to come forward and said that “Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community.”

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 07:10

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Biden’s approval ratings at an all-time low after the US withdrawal

Joe Biden’s approval ratings have plummeted to an all-time low after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Mr Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 43 per cent, the lowest since he took office, according to a new Marist National Poll with NPR and PBS Newshour.

The poll indicated that the majority of the American citizens believe the US’s role in Afghanistan was a “failure”.

About 61 per cent of responders were against the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the poll results.

A major chunk of the responders, however, also believed that Afghanistan should now determine its future without US involvement. And 29 per cent said that it was the US’s “duty” to stay involved in the country.

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 06:26

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In a rare protest against Taliban, women demonstrate against gender-based violence

Dozens of women in western Afghanistan took to the streets on Thursday in a rare public protest against the Taliban rule and restrictions on their right to work and seek education.

They also had a faceoff with Taliban members at one point.

The women also demanded they be included in the government.

One banner read: “No government is stable without the support of women.”

Reports said women chanted “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. We are together” as Taliban fighters watched.

Several countries have called upon the Taliban to include women in the government and respect the rights of all Afghan citizens.

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 05:48

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Taliban showcases its military might in a chilling video

The Taliban has released a terrifying video in which suicide bombers are seen parading and showcasing suicide vests, explosives, rockets and other weaponry.

The parade was held at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

Reports said the video was released by the group’s public relations arm to celebrate its “victory” after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 05:29