THE first refugees from Afghanistan, who were evacuated following the Taliban takeover last month, have arrived in Wales.
Wales is accommodating 50 families, comprising of about 230 people, with the majority having supported Welsh-based military forces in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.
The Welsh Government has been working with local authorities, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Ministry of Defence, refugee support organisations and local Welsh Afghans.
Jane Hutt, minister for social justice, said: “Today, we welcome the families and individuals that have served our country in Afghanistan.
“We have made clear our pledge of Wales being a Nation of Sanctuary and we’re committed to do all that is possible to ensure Afghan interpreters, refugees and their families are welcomed.
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“Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary – we will do all we can to provide a warm welcome in the short-term and our communities will, no doubt, be enriched by their skills and experiences in the very near future.
“All local authorities in Wales are participating in these schemes and have offered their support and assistance to the Afghan citizens who are being resettled in the UK.”
The five Gwent councils – Newport, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent – have confirmed they will be supporting the resettlement scheme in the months ahead.
Torfaen council this week committed to offering homes for up to five families over the coming months in support of the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) set up by the UK Government.
Sian Lewis, chief executive of the Urdd, Sian said: “This has been a huge team Wales effort across all sectors, and we are grateful to our partners for enabling us to open our doors as a refuge to families seeking shelter and safety.
“As an organisation, we are proud to help and continue to share with our members the importance of loyalty to country and culture but also to humanity and a higher good.
“We have a moral obligation as a national youth organisation to support humanitarian projects and offer a hand of friendship and support to the Afghan community in their time of need.”
Huw Thomas, leader of Cardiff Council, added: “These families have been forced to leave their homes in fear of their lives, while fleeing the Taliban.
“It’s hard for most of us to imagine just what they’ve been through.”