04:12PM, Wednesday 18 August 2021
The Royal Borough has confirmed it will provide refuge for two Afghan families immediately in response to the crisis unfolding in the country.
Thousands of people have been pictured trying to flee the country’s capital, Kabul, following the nationwide takeover by Taliban forces.
MPs were recalled to Parliament today for an emergency sitting to discuss the ongoing crisis.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons the Government is committing to relocate 5,000 Afghan refugees this year as part of a resettlement scheme focused on the most vulnerable.
The UK could accommodate up to 20,000 refugees over the coming years, Mr Johnson added.
Council leader Andrew Johnson said: “The council has confirmed to Government that the Royal Borough will take two Afghan families immediately and we will look to increase that number once we have received further details of the Government's resettlement scheme.”
Neighbouring Slough Borough Council, which has taken in refugees previously, said it is also awaiting further contact from the Government
The Royal Borough pledged to house 10 families from Syrian refugee camps in 2016 following the outbreak of civil war.
Maidenhead MP Theresa May hit out at the Prime Minister during the emergency debate over his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan.
“What must be of key concern to us is the message this sends around the world to those who would do the West harm”— Theresa May (@theresa_may) August 18, 2021
My contribution on the situation in Afghanistan, its future and implications for the world: https://t.co/fpLTWemSpG pic.twitter.com/dnEdbw10F2
Mrs May said: “What has been most shocking is the chaos and the speed of the takeover by the Taliban.
“In July of this year, both President Biden and the Prime Minister indicated that they did not think that the Taliban were ready or able to take over control of the country.
“Was our intelligence really so poor? Was our understanding of the Afghan Government so weak?
“Was our knowledge of the position on the ground so inadequate?
“Did we really believe that, or did we just feel that we had to follow the United States and hope that, on a wing and a prayer, it would be all right on the night?”
Slough MP Tan Dhesi also described the UK’s ‘sudden’ withdrawal from Afghanistan as an abject surrender which ‘has brought humiliation to our nation’.
He said: “It has left a sense of abandonment and betrayal for those Afghans who were counting on us to build a better society, and will doubtless lead to an erosion of hard earned rights for women, education and the freedom of faith.”
Mr Dhesi said the priority must now be to avert a humanitarian crisis ensure refuge for minorities who bravely assisted the rebuilding process including Sikhs and Hindus.
Sudden unplanned #Afghanistan withdrawal by Tory Govt and others is nothing but an abject surrender, bringing humiliation to our nation, and a sense of betrayal and erosion of rights for many.— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) August 15, 2021
Priority must be to avert humanitarian crisis and ensure refuge for those in danger. pic.twitter.com/J5QRCF9NW0
Taplow-based humanitarian charity Khalsa Aid said it has been taking calls from frightened and anxious Sikhs and Hindus who are awaiting an airlift out of Afghanistan.
Founder Ravi Singh tweeted: “I am receiving calls from people desperately trying to leave Afghanistan, they are in extreme distress.
“Our Government must do much more for the religious minorities and vulnerable groups who will face persecution at the hands of the Taliban.”
This weekend’s smart motorway closures on the M4 will be shorter than usual due to separate bridge works taking place in West Berkshire (Junctions 13-14)