Online government papers state that the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) prioritises those who ‘have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan’. Should we read this as provision of military assistance? In addition, people will be considered for the ACRS if they have ‘stood up’ for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law. Defining these vague terms in the context of Afghanistan let alone identifying the people involved is an incredibly challenging task. ACRS also considers those who are ‘vulnerable’, namely women and girls and members of minority groups at risk (ethnic, religious, and LGBT+). In addition to relating to and sharing Good News with those from a Muslim heritage, the Church has a lot to consider when it comes to the particular people ear-marked for settlement.

Those in ACRS include those people called forward for evacuation but were not able to board flights in the terrible scenes we saw on the news. The UK government says it will work with the UN and ‘international partners’ in the region to identify people ‘most at risk’ and refer them along with their spouses, partners and dependent children under the age of 18. What a terrible situation. One wonders how such people will be able to access the ACRS unless they have got influence or have already fled to another country.

Amidst sensational media reports, it should be noted that the UK is not resettling all that many people. In the first year from August 2021 just 5,000 people will be resettled with up to 20,000 ‘over the coming years’. Nevertheless, the generosity of the ACRS is remarkable once people arrive in the UK. Arrivals will be given the option of applying free of charge to convert their temporary leave into ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’ in the UK (this is normally a costly, drawn-out affair). After 5 years, people will be able to apply for British citizenship.

Funding of £12 million has been set aside for healthcare and to prioritise additional school places so children can be enrolled quickly, and to provide school transport, specialist teachers and English language support. A noteworthy 300 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships will be made available for Afghans at UK universities. Adults will also be able to access English language courses free of charge. However, it is worth noting that the waiting list for ESOL classes can be up to 2 years which is an incredible opportunity for the Church to step in.

Housing is the challenge. 2,000 places have already been confirmed from more than 100 councils. Much of the accommodation, however, is temporary and in hotels. Reports of emotional and mental breakdown have already made their way into the media with reports of people asking to return to Afghanistan rather than put up with substandard and restrictive hotel conditions. We think of the tragedy of the small child falling out of a hotel window just two days after being resettled in Sheffield. What an opportunity for the Church to pray.

Keep an eye out for a government online portal where people can submit offers of support for people arriving from Afghanistan (offers of housing and work will be extended to include job opportunities, professional skills training, or donations of items like clothes or toys). Although a wonderful idea, it should be noted that similar schemes have not materialised or fizzled out.

So where are people in the ACRS headed? Figures are hard to come by and we should distinguish between council pledges and actual provision. Figures are hazy when it comes to people arriving well before or at the time of the takeover by the Taliban. Moreover, arrivals are described in terms of ‘families’ and ‘individuals’. Juggling the numbers must be mindboggling. Here is a snapshot of a few places where evacuees are headed. Can you spot an area near you?

  • Derby refugee charity says 70 Afghan refugees have already arrived in the city.
  • Walsall has housed 86 Afghans with the council pledging to support up to 120.
  • Wolverhampton has welcomed 29 Afghans with another 57 evacuees put up in temporary ‘bridging’ accommodation.
  • Dudley has welcomed four families with a further two in Sandwell.
  • Migration Yorkshire said more than 200 people will be arriving in the county.
  • In Leicestershire, Oadby & Wigston will welcome two Afghan families. Newark and Sherwood District Council is relocating two families described as in “immediate danger”. Melton Borough Council says it will relocate two families who are in immediate danger after serving with British troops.
  • Coventry City Council has said up to 150 Afghan interpreters and other UK government staff could be rehomed there.
  • Salford had to scramble to provide accommodation for 100 people with 24 hours notice! Meanwhile, Stockport took in 19 evacuees.

The next few months and years will hopefully bring more clarity and highlight more opportunities. Don’t forget Birmingham and the London boroughs where most of the established Afghan communities live (there are Islamic Afghan cultural centres in Willesden, Norbury and Hounslow together with Sikh communities). Ask your local council what is happening in your area and how you can help. Pray and be poised and ready to say hello to someone from Afghanistan near you.

Further Reading (Accessed 15 Oct 21) (Accessed 15 Oct 21) (Accessed 15 Oct 21) (Welcome Churches network with lots of ideas, info, and points for further action) (Accessed 24 Oct 21))


Afghanistan has two main languages – Dari and Pashto. Here are some helpful

resources for these languages (thanks to Welcome Churches for compiling much of this list!)

Online Scripture – multiple languages (app availalable) (app availalable) (app)

Gospel Films

The Passion of the Christ (Farsi subtitles)

Courses for Afghans

Welcome to the Word:

Other Video resources

Worship resources

House of Worship:

Other written resources

ICI Global University – 18 books (Dari or Pashto)

Signposting to resources in common refugee languages