NEW figures show how many Afghan refugees are housed in Southampton.

For the first time, the Home Office has released figures on where refugees from Afghanistan are staying in the UK.

The government launched two schemes to relocate Afghan citizens over two years in 2021 and 2022, in the aftermath of the Taliban retaking control of the country.

The Home Office data shows that 185 Afghan refugees now reside in Southampton as part of the government's Afghan citizens resettlement scheme.

The findings also show that the city houses a further 229 Ukrainian refugees – as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Reacting to the news Southampton Itchen MP, Royston Smith told the Daily Echo: “We have a huge problem with illegal immigration in our country and the government is rightly, in my opinion, trying to tackle it.

“But we can’t lose sight of what a welcoming country this is for those in need.

"Families across Southampton and the country stepped up and opened their doors to Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s illegal invasion and after the successful evacuation of British nationals and Afghans, who had helped the allied forces, this country and city once again welcomed them with open arms.

“Our country has a long and proud history of helping those fleeing persecution and violence.”

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Paul Woodman, a spokesperson for Clear Project – a charity that has supported refugees and asylum seekers in Southampton since 2001 – told the Echo: “We currently work with people from over 50 different nations with the largest proportion being people from Afghanistan, Iran and Ukraine.

“We should be very proud of how Southampton, a recognised city of sanctuary, has helped people fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Our schools have been welcoming and the response from the local community has been incredible as people have left their countries with very little.”

He added: “Our practical support, advice and English classes help them to make a new start and contribute towards our society. Over 20 years, we have seen many of our clients go on to lead their lives as teachers, engineers and other vital roles in society.

“We have just initiated an impact report to capture the lasting effect on people’s lives of our 20-plus years of supporting people as they arrive in Southampton.”