Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq has welcomed an 11-year-old refugee who fled from Kabul last month amid the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
Huq met Arash Mehran at a meeting with the Society of Afghan Residents in the UK (SAR UK), which has been based at West Acton Community Centre since 1982, the oldest Society of its kind in the country. It was founded in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the country.
Arash and his mother were evacuated on a UK military aircraft firstly to Dubai in August, before finally arriving in Acton after flying into Manchester and a subsequent hotel quarantine stay to be with his father, who worked for the British Army.
The youngster said he’d taught himself English on the internet, and was happy to be back with his Dad, though he added “London is much colder than Kabul.”
Arash appeared alongside Rupa Huq on ITV London News yesterday evening, in which he voiced concerns for friends left behind in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Huq said: “It was an honour to meet Arash and the volunteers at the Society, who have been working tirelessly to support Afghans of all religions and none. He was such an impressive young man with a wise head on young shoulders.”
She added: “My staff have been working around the clock to support the Afghan diaspora community in Ealing, Acton and Chiswick, fielding calls and emails. We have processed the details of well over a thousand individuals, many of whom are still stuck in Afghanistan, sometimes going house to house in hiding from the Taliban.
“The Government has failed the people of Afghanistan, and has failed to provide Ealing Council with the support it needs to house Afghan refugees.
“I will continue to press the Government to take in its fair share of refugees, provide safe passage for asylum seekers, support local authorities, and ensure that all the gains made in human rights in Afghanistan in the past 20 years aren’t needlessly lost.”
Cllr Aysha Raza of Ealing Council also attended the meeting to discuss steps the Council is taking to support incoming refugee families.
Three families from Afghanistan are currently being fully supported by Ealing Council, and more are understood to currently be in hotel quarantine in the borough.
The Government has pledged to rehome 5000 Afghan refugees this year, which Huq said was “merely a drop in the ocean.”
Cllr Raza said the Council will play its part in housing Afghan refugees, but added that the Government’s resettlement scheme does not meet the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by Afghanistan’s collapse.
“We need the Government to work with councils and provide urgent funding to house refugees,” Cllr Raza said.
“The financial burden cannot fall on local councils. The Government needs to offer proper funding for housing, mental health care, medical care, education, retraining to secure jobs — a complete support package.”
Huq’s meeting with SAR UK followed a similar meeting with Assiya Amini of Ealing-based community organisation, Afghan Academy International.
Huq added: “Ealing already a large Afghan diaspora community. I’m proud of Ealing’s historic ties with the proud and resilient people of Afghanistan, of which Arash is a great example. I am proud to be his MP.”