Essex County Council: Finding homes for Afghan refugees is 'a challenge'
- Credit: PA
Essex County Council has admitted it is struggling to accommodate families fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
In a statement, ECC revealed finding homes large enough to accommodate refugee families is "a challenge" because suitable housing is in short supply.
The British government is in the process of welcoming 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next five years after the Taliban takeover in August.
ECC said its Afghan Refugee Housing Task Force, chaired by council leader Councillor Kevin Bentley, has met to discuss the welcome effort in Essex.
The Task Force heard that only 18 homes across the county council's area had been identified for refugees.
A further six have been identified in Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea.
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But despite the shortages, Cllr Bentley shared his hope that a "Team Essex" approach - which draws on government support packages - will prove successful.
Cllr Bentley said: "Councils in Essex are committed to making sure we provide all the help and support we can to the Afghan families who risked so much to help British forces, and other vulnerable Afghans who had to flee their home country.
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“Our mission is to secure the right housing to ensure they get the best possible start to life in the UK.
“Some private landlords have already contacted councils.
"Prior to the mass evacuation from Afghanistan, the ‘Team Essex’ approach enabled some families to move into their new homes, so we now need to build on that start."
The government's Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions are responsible for allocating refugees to housing and employment schemes.
In Uttlesford, the district council's deputy leader Cllr Petrina Lees said it would be an injustice not to house families together.
She said: "We have been working with ECC and the Home Office to find accommodation.
"The mood across councils is that we are finding it difficult to allocate our extremely limited stock."
She said homeowners who may be able to help should contact the council online: https://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/afghan-refugee-crisis
ECC and its partners accepted donations for Afghan refugees but suspended the effort in August after an "overwhelming response" by residents.