Exmouth councillor 'incredibly proud' of town's response to Afghan refugees | Opinion

  Posted: 04.10.21 at 10:49 by Councillor Joe Whibley (Exmouth Town Ward)

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A couple of weeks ago, the Home Office placed approximately 50 Afghan refugees in Exmouth - people who'd escaped the horrors we witnessed on our televisions at Kabul Airport, who have lived through an aggressive takeover of their country by a group who, despite their protestations to the contrary, will use killing and oppression to quell any form of freedom that doesn't conform to their strict, supposedly religious beliefs.

As a representative of part of Exmouth, I couldn't let the events of the last few weeks pass without saying a huge, huge thank you to the people of the town for the way in which we have rallied around, donated, fundraised and welcomed these people.

I am incredibly proud.

I had the pleasure of not only meeting with some of the refugees, but having a (very competitive!) kick about with them last week. The sense I get from them is one of relief that they're away from what they have witnessed, full of smiles, polite and friendly. Oh, and that long range shot was definitely in...the problem of using jumpers for goalposts!

The usual comments appeared briefly on social media (to clarify, they're being directly funded by the Home Office, your council tax will not go up because of them and we do not know anything as yet about long term plans). But these were quickly squashed, overwhelmed in a sea of offers of support.

About 15 years ago, I was a foster carer and looked after a young Afghan for a while. He'd, quite literally, fallen off the back of a lorry having endured a terrible ordeal to get here, escaping persecution due to the tribe he belonged to. He is now, I believe, working locally within the NHS, contributing and generally being, as we have heard often over the last year, heroic.

It saddens me that the USA and, by association, the UK have left Afghanistan to endure an almost identical existence, after such a long battle to ensure a better future. He'd have to make the same journey today he made all those years ago. So much for progress.

But I am heartened, thankful and aglow when I see our local response. Exmouth, I salute you!

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