Help sought to house refugees as four councils offer support

Joseph Bulmer

Four district councils in Devon have so far offered to find accommodation for people fleeing Afghanistan, with the county council urging local landlords to come forward.

However, last week, Torbay said it would not be accepting new Afghan refugees escaping the crisis in that country.

A spokesperson for Devon County Council, which is working in partnership with districts in response to the situation, said it was ‘too early to say how many people can be housed overall’ and urged landlords to help by offering to rent out flats and houses to those in need.

It has not been revealed who the four district authorities so far offering to help are, but last week it was reported how Torridge District Council had agreed to accommodate families from Afghanistan, although the number is expected to be modest.

Last week, the government announced that up to 5,000 Afghans can apply for refuge in the UK this year, with up to 20,000 in the longer term. This appears to be a similar scheme to one for Syrians, under which 20,000 people have been resettled over a seven-year period since 2014.

Priority will be given to women and girls, and religious and other minorities who are most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban, the Islamist group that is now in control of Afghanistan.

In a statement, a county council spokesperson said: “Devon’s councils [which exclude Torbay and Plymouth] support the UK government’s moves to relocate Afghan citizens who worked with and for UK forces and organisations, and are working actively to find long-term accommodation for these friends of the UK.

“Councils are very keen to hear from local landlords who would be willing to rent flats or houses to these Afghan citizens, particularly in Devon’s towns where it will be easier to help families settle in.

“The county is well placed to welcome Afghan families, building on our experience of housing nearly 50 refugee families in the last five years under the government’s Syrian resettlement scheme.

“We hope that this experience will also help us to respond to the new Afghan refugee resettlement scheme just announced by the government.”

Landlords who are interested should get in touch by email at