Afghan Refugee Crisis Appeal: Update
In late-August, World Jewish Relief launched an emergency appeal, with support from the UK Jewish community, to assist people being forced to flee Afghanistan. We are responding to the urgent needs of Afghans who have fled to Turkey, and of those who are arriving in the UK via Government resettlement programmes.
In the UK there are 12,000 Afghan citizens being housed in about 80 hotels, whilst waiting to be offered permanent housing. It is expected that larger families might be in hotels for at least the next 3 months. We are working in a hotel in Bradford which is housing 150 Afghan citizens, with our partner Horton Housing Association. With the generous support of the UK Jewish community, we have been able to fund several activities for people of all ages:
- Women’s English language classes, as women are arriving with lower English levels on average than men.
- English language classes for children aged 11+, who are yet to be enrolled in school.
- A range of activities for children, through Kings Camp, including language sessions, sessions to prepare children for school life in the UK, arts and crafts, and dance sessions.
These activities are being well-received. Women’s English language classes currently have a 100% attendance rate, and parents describe how much their children are benefitting from the structure provided by sessions. One parent said:
This is the only activity that brings all of our community together
Another parent said:
This is the happiest I’ve seen my children since we arrived
We intend to extend our activities to three more hotels over the coming months.
Meanwhile, in the locations where we run our Specialist Training and Employment Programme we are supporting Afghans who have already been housed, on their journeys into work. We are exploring how best to provide employment support to Afghans whilst they are still in hotels, and plan to deliver this in the coming months.
Meanwhile, there are currently thousands of Afghans are camped on both sides of the Iran-Turkey border, either waiting to cross into Turkey or to travel from the border to Istanbul. Our local partner International Blue Crescent (IBC) have been supporting Afghan refugees in Istanbul for years, so when the latest wave of Afghans began arriving, they were well-prepared to assist them. In partnership with IBC, we have developed a programme delivering food packages, and providing legal assistance and psychological support to new Afghan arrivals.
IBC began by initiating a dialogue process with the Afghan community, visiting the neighbourhoods where Afghans are heading, talking to people, and gaining the community’s trust. By developing a relationship with Afghans already in Istanbul, they were able to establish an informal referral service whereby these people directed new arrivals towards their services. By engaging with the local community, IBC was also able to identify the most vulnerable arrivals and target support towards these individuals.
IBC have so far delivered 150 food packages to Afghans, each of which will feed a family for one month. They have also begun providing emergency cash support to those in greatest need, for example to single mothers who are undocumented and therefore cannot work or claim refugee rights in order to pay rent and support their children. With this initial urgent support underway, IBC is now providing legal support to Afghans, to help people to navigate registering for the UNHCR’s protection programme. They are also providing psychological support to help people through the trauma they have experienced.