Boris Johnson launches ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ for Afghan refugees

The PM wrote an open letter to all members of the armed forces saying he understood their pain over such a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of fighting

“I am determined we welcome them with open arms”

Boris Johnson last night launched Operation Warm Welcome for Afghan refugees arriving in Britain.

And the PM wrote an open letter to all members of the armed forces saying he understood their pain over such a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of fighting.

He wrote: “The events of recent weeks will have been hard for the Armed Forces community to watch unfold.

“Many thousands of you dedicated years of your lives to service in Afghanistan, often in the most arduous conditions.”

The last mercy flight left Afghanistan capital Kabul on Friday night and efforts will now concentrate on making those fleeing the Taliban comfortable here.

Mr Johnson has appointed Home Office safeguarding boss Victoria Atkins as the new minister for Afghan Resettlement.

Her job will be to ensure Afghans arriving here will get the same treatment as the 20,000 Syrian refugees who came to Britain during the civil war there.

Boris Johnson said a new department would be set up to coordinate preparations for the new arrivals


Getty Images)

Victoria Atkins is the new minister for Afghan refugees


BBC/AFP via Getty Images)

The PM said: “I am determined we welcome them with open arms and put in place the support they need to rebuild their lives.

“For those who have left their homes with no more than a small bag of belongings coming to the UK will have been a daunting experience, but also one of hope.”

There will be a new department set up to coordinate housing, health and education needs and to deal with the trauma escapees might have suffered.

It will also oversee donations of clothes and toys from individuals, charities and businesses and provide free English language courses.

Many of the arrivals will be put up in hotels and B&Bs temporarily while local authorities use the £5million Whitehall has provided to find housing.

But councils will be under pressure for homes big enough to accommodate large families not readily available in their existing housing stock.

It means the Government may have to give them extra to buy up large properties on the open market.

Mr Johnson said his thoughts are particularly with the families of the 457 British service personnel who were killed during the war.

He added: “Our purpose in Afghanistan was to protect the UK from harm – and you succeeded in that central mission.

“In the last 20 years not a single terrorist attack has been launched from Afghan soil against the UK or any other Western country.”

And he said British efforts to school 3.6 million Afghan girls will not be undone easily.

The PM added: “Education, once imparted, can never be taken away.

“And this progress would never have happened without your effort and sacrifice.”

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