By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A Nottinghamshire councillor who lost a leg while serving as a soldier in Afghanistan believes it is Britain and Nottinghamshire’s “duty” to support Afghan refugees with resettlement.
Councillor Johno Lee (Con) was injured following a minefield explosion in October 2007 but now sits on both Newark and Sherwood and Nottinghamshire County Councils.
The councillor, 38, described the country’s return to Taliban control as an “emotional time”, and voiced his concerns for people living in Afghanistan.
It follows the Taliban declaring victory in the country after regaining capital city Kabul. The group have swept back to power almost 20 years after being ousted by the US-led military forces.
Responding to the situation, the Government has pledged to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next five years.
It is similar to the 2014 project set up to support Syrian refugees when the country fell into civil war.
Around 5,000 Afghans will be resettled by the end of 2021.
“My personal opinion is 100 per cent we all have our part to do, and we should be doing it,” he said.
“I’m a district councillor as well as a county councillor, and I know we have already taken some in.
“It’s a difficult situation, I’m hearing lots of different stories in Afghanistan and it’s quite an emotional time for me.
“While we were out there we did the best job we could, the country never fell, and that’s something to be proud of.
“But my heart and prayers go out to the Afghan people during this very difficult time. That’s why it’s our duty to offer accommodation and care to those Afghan people scared of being killed under Taliban rule.”
The Taliban is a hardline Islamist group accused of sheltering Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda in the run-up to the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Several councils across Nottinghamshire have pledged to take in families or offer their support.
Newark and Sherwood District Council, where Cllr Lee represents Balderton North and Coddington, is relocating two families described as in “immediate danger”.
Cllr David Lloyd (Con), leader of the council, said: “Many locally-employed staff in Afghanistan are now in real danger having provided vital support to our military over the last 20 years.
“These people have acted heroically as our allies, despite the risk to themselves and their families, and it’s only right that we do all we can to keep them safe and recognise their service and contribution to our country.”
Broxtowe Borough Council has also committed to housing two families, with Gedling Borough Council planning to support one family.
Cllr John Clarke (Lab), Gedling council leader, confirmed logistics are underway and added: “We are limited to what we can do as we have a large waiting list for houses in the borough but we will help in any way we can.”
Ashfield and Rushcliffe councils add they will support the resettlement scheme once issued with further guidance.