VOLUNTEERS who work with asylum seekers and MPs are calling on the Government to house more refugees from Afghanistan in the coming months.

On Tuesday the first rescue flight carrying evacuees from Afghanistan landed in Oxfordshire at RAF Brize Norton, near Carterton.

It is one of several flights out of the Afghanistan capital, Kabul, which is expected to arrive in the UK over the coming days.

Read here: Oxfordshire hits 50,000 Covid cases since pandemic began

The Voyager flight arrived after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would help Afghans fleeing the Taliban by giving some 20,000 refugees sanctuary in the UK over the coming years.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said this year 5,000 refugees from Afghanistan would be resettled in the UK.

Asylum Welcome, an organisation that supports asylum seekers, refugees, and vulnerable migrants living in Oxfordshire, has called on the Government to resettle more Afghan refugees in the short term.

Almas Farzi, one of the directors of the organisation, said: “Our message to people in Oxfordshire is that we need to show solidarity, as we have in the past, and offer practical support to those fleeing the country.

“We need action to be taken now, to pave the way for the people to arrive in a safe and secure environment.”

The organisation is holding a meeting with councillors and MPs on Friday to work towards practical solutions to help those fleeing the country in their time of crisis.

Layla Moran, MP for West Oxford and Abingdon, has also called on the Government to increase the number of Afghan refugees the UK will house this year – highlighting the current plans only amount to 7 Afghans per constituency.

Ms Moran also said extra money must be given to councils to provide the ‘vital services’ refugees need to settle.

She said: “Councils stand ready, they want to open their doors.

“Oxford is proud to be a city of sanctuary.

“But when the Government has slashed their funding for years, we cannot just expect councils to bear the burden of our obligations to Afghans by themselves.

“If the new settlement scheme isn’t properly funded and resourced, it will fail.”

PICTURED: The evacuees arriving from Afghanistan 

It is yet unclear how many refugees will be housed in Oxford – both Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are waiting for more details from the Government about specific Afghan refugee resettlement schemes.

A spokesperson for Oxford City Council said: “On general refugee resettlement, as a council, we have given direct support to the 30 refugee families that arrived in Oxford through the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Schemes.

“We have also committed to taking eight families by March 2022 under the new UK Resettlement Scheme.

“We also indirectly support refugees in Oxford through our work with local charities such as Asylum Welcome, Sanctuary Hosting and Refugee Resource.”