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Efforts made around Diss to support Afghan refugees as crisis deepens

Local authorities and business owners have pledged to support Afghan refugees fleeing from the Taliban.

More than 6,000 Afghans have been flown to the UK, desperately seeking a safe haven after their country was consumed by the radical group earlier this month.

Now, people have begun fundraising efforts across the area to support the new arrivals to the UK, while councils have pledged to support any refugees.

Owners of the Burston Crown, Bev and Steve Kembery, with the donations they have received so far. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.
Owners of the Burston Crown, Bev and Steve Kembery, with the donations they have received so far. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.

Burston Crown owners Bev and Steve Kembery have begun making welcome packs for young children arriving from Afghanistan after being moved by the heart-wrenching pictures of parents being separated from their children at Kabul Airport this week.

“The thought of unaccompanied children, and parents having to give up their kids, is difficult to fathom,” said mother-of-three Mrs Kembery.

“You can’t imagine having to give up your child, how desperate you must be to be willing to hand your child over to another country.

The situation is rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan. Picture: MOD (50642211)
The situation is rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan. Picture: MOD (50642211)

“These are human beings. It’s just heart-wrenching and beyond belief.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it and that’s why we decided we needed to do something.”

Since Monday, dozens of people have turned up to the Burston Crown, in Mill Road to donate children’s clothes, coats, nappies and toiletries.

By working with the children’s services department at Norfolk County Council, the items will be put in welcome packs before being distributed to new arrivals.

While the project has been a huge success, Mrs Kembery said she expected nothing less from the community in south Norfolk.

“This is the first time we have done anything like this, but it does not surprise me at all how many people have turned up to donate or offer to help,” she said.

“Its a great community here – the people are brilliant.”

It is understood that a number of refugees have already settled in Norfolk.

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council, said the county would be prepared to take in more after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a resettlement scheme for more than 20,000 Afghans.

He said: “The county council, along with Norfolk’s supportive districts and boroughs, was among the first councils in the country to volunteer to assist the Government’s scheme to support Afghan interpreters coming to the UK, and is already supporting a number of Afghans in the county, with more expected over the coming weeks.

“Following the Prime Minister’s announcement to the Commons, and in light of the events unfolding in Afghanistan over the past week, we are ready to offer further support and are currently awaiting more details from the Home Office on how the Government’s policy will be enacted.”

Diss and Roydon councillor Keith Kiddie, who served as a soldier in the British military for 35 years, including a tour of Afghanistan in 2007, praised his constituents for their fundraising efforts, and described the developments over the past two weeks as a “tragedy”.

“It shows the basic decency and goodness of people around here,” said Cllr Kiddie, who worked as a British liaison officer to the Canadian military during his stint in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan.

“I’m just shocked we are in this situation in such a short amount of time.

“The whole situation is an absolute tragedy. We only have to look at the scenes outside Kabul Airport – it’s a humanitarian calamity,” added Cllr Kiddie.

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