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Council chiefs confirm plans to welcome Afghan refugees to Aberdeen

Afghans wait at Kabul airport, where many have gathered in the hope of fleeing the country.
Afghans wait at Kabul airport, where many have gathered in the hope of fleeing the country.

Council chiefs have insisted Aberdeen is ready to welcome refugees from Afghanistan amid an escalating humanitarian crisis in the country.

Millions of people are believed to be attempting to flee after the Taliban regained control of the country.

American troops – who are due to withdraw from Afghanistan – and their British counterparts have been sent to the capital Kabul, where the international airport has become a hub for those seeking to leave.

Earlier this week, SNP city councillor Michael Hutchison, who served with the United Nations as an army reservist, said Aberdeen should “play its part” and join other local authorities in welcoming refugees.

Work ‘ongoing’ to help refugees

Now Ryan Houghton, Aberdeen City Council’s finance convener who previously completed a four-month tour of Afghanistan with the RAF, has confirmed the authority is preparing for the arrival of those fleeing the country.

The Conservative group leader said work is “ongoing” between the council and the UK Government to determine how many people can be resettled in Aberdeen.

“Council officers have been engaging with the government and our partners offering Aberdeen as a place to resettle refugees from Afghanistan,” Mr Houghton said.

Ryan Houghton confirmed Aberdeen City Council is preparing to welcome refugees.

“Work is ongoing to ensure people coming from the most horrible circumstances are able to find a home.

“Aberdeen has a proud history of providing that and will continue to do so.”

A total of 29 Syrian families have been housed in Aberdeen following war there, with Mr Hutchison calling for a similar scheme for those fleeing Afghanistan as part of a “global effort”.

City’s ‘moral responsibility’ to help

It is not yet known how many Afghans could be resettled in the Granite City.

However, some readers have already welcomed the move to have the city opened up to those fleeing the conflict.

Ian McAllister said: “We’re talking about human beings fleeing for their lives here because of a situation the UK and the US helped cause.

“We have a moral responsibility to help. A little bit of humanity wouldn’t go amiss.”

Geraldine Ni Loinsigh claimed the Aberdeen would “surely benefit from a more diverse population”, adding: “I think if we were in the same position, we would be crying out for other countries to give us refuge. Refugees are a welcome boost for both the economy and cultural identity of a city.”

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