AS the awful events in the Middle East contribute to a new chapter in the history of war, here in Monmouthshire we have an opportunity to show an entirely contrasting side of life.
So, I am delighted that we have the opportunity to extend a welcome to 50 Afghani families who are arriving on our doorstep at Beachley Barracks, technically just over the border in England, but very much part of Chepstow. They, too, have been scarred by the horrors of conflict.
They are among those we have been able to bring to the UK as part of a scheme to resettle families when someone played a key role in helping the work of our armed forces in Afghanistan. We owe them a debt of gratitude. And as a result, they have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Fifty homes in on Beachley camp, are being use to accommodate the families for up to six weeks at a time. This transitional accommodation will play a part in the relocation and resettlement for these brave individuals before they move to settled accommodation elsewhere and start properly to rebuild their lives in the UK.
At very short notice, we are working alongside the Ministry of Defence and neighbouring local authorities to ensure that the families can access all necessary local services for the brief period they will be resident on our doorstep. Much of what will be needed will come from the MoD–and we and others are making sure we can work in tandem with them to provide any ancillary support.
As a County of Sanctuary, it is wonderful to be given this opportunity again to demonstrate what this really means in practical, everyday terms. We have done so with the Ukrainian families, many of whom have settled in Chepstow since moving from our Welcome Centre in Magor earlier this year.
It is why I know that we can do so again and that while briefly here we will be able to extend the warm Monmouthshire welcome they deserve.