We were honoured to host an event at the Scottish Parliament to welcome new Afghan refugees to Scotland, and delighted to be joined by ministers and MSPs from across parties.
Glasgow Afghan United (GAU) organised an official event at Holyrood and we invited as many new Afghans in Scotland as the capacity rules allowed.
Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, gave the keynote speech to an audience including newly-arrived Afghans from Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow and Greenock. They hail from many different Afghan regions and peoples, but are all now part of the growing Afghan community in Scotland.
Sponsored by Bob Doris MSP, the event also attracted MSPs from across parties, who joined together to show their support for the families now working to make new lives in Scotland.
The event also heard from Dr Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, and was attended by representatives of Police Scotland and the Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews.
All 32 local authorities have committed to doing their part to welcome households who fled the Taliban takeover last summer. Most of these have been resettled as part of the UK Government’s ARAP scheme, which was designed for those who had aided UK efforts in Afghanistan, such as translators and security personnel, and their immediate dependents.
Ms Robison told those assembled “this is your parliament” and Abdul Bostani, the director of GAU, said: “New Afghan Refugees to Scotland have arrived in terrible circumstances. They have had to flee their home country because the Taliban has taken over again. They have arrived with few belongings and endured a chaotic evacuation, the separation from friends and loved ones, the stress of leaving, the guilt of having left.
“Trust me, I understand this. I myself came to this country as a refugee. I was 18 and I was alone, but I found community here.
“And I know very well what else the New Afghan Refugees have arrived with – skills that can fill gaps in our labour market; professional experience that cannot be bought; talents, dreams, hopes and potential.
“When I think about the potential of this community, I too am filled with hope. These are incredible people who can be assets to this country.
“And so it is our collective responsibility to provide the support and assistance that is needed to unlock this potential and allow these new brothers and sisters to live the successful, independent lives they wish for and deserve.”
GAU is working in partnership with the Scottish Government on Afghan resettlement and supporting people in housing, education, employment and more.
We would like to thank every one of the MSPs and honoured guests who attended this very important event, with special thanks to Bob Doris MSP for being our sponsor.
We were delighted when a report on our event was published by Third Force News. You can read it by clicking this link.