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Harrogate district welcomes more than 170 refugees since 2021

Tuesday, 4 June 2024 11:43

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

The Harrogate district has welcomed 173 refugees since 2021, according to figures published by North Yorkshire Council.

Refugees have come from war-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan through two different schemes set up by the government to respond to global crises.

The figures do not include those who arrived from Ukraine or Hong Kong.

In Harrogate, 57 people have come through the United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme which was set up to provide refugees with a “safe and legal” route into the UK.

Across the county there 200 refugees have arrived through this scheme which has included Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan Hazara, Sudanese and South Sudanese people.

The council qualifies for funding through the Home Office to help house refugees.

It said it has tried to ensure arrivals are placed in a similar cultural background, which has typically been near to other Arabic speakers.

However, it has seen some success in placing refugees with those from different backgrounds.

A council report said:

“This new dynamic of support has not only allowed the new arrivals to feel more settled but in turn has led the existing families to reflect on how far they themselves have progressed since arriving in the UK.”

Thousands of refugees have come to the UK from Afghanistan since the withdrawal of US troops and the return to power of the Taliban in August 2021.

In the Harrogate district, there have been 116 people arriving through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) with many being former interpreters for the British Army.

The report said most recent arrivals to North Yorkshire from Afghanistan are now living in army accommodation.

But it raised concerns that these are typically in rural locations which makes integration more difficult for people new to the UK.

To help refugees settle in, North Yorkshire Council provides them with 8 hours of formal English language classes each week in their local area.

It also offers help in finding jobs but said progress has been “steady but slow.”

The report said some refugees have found jobs with the council after going through the normal competitive interview process and two former doctors from Afghanistan are now studying medicine in the UK.

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