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17 October 2022

King Charles meets refugees who have settled for new life in Aberdeen

17 October 2022

The King welcomed refugees from Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan as he learned of efforts to resettle displaced families in Aberdeen.

Charles visited the Scottish city on Monday to hear first hand how Aberdeen City Council had been supporting people fleeing conflict in their homeland.

The city council has worked with the UK and Scottish Governments to provide accommodation and critical services such as health and education for more than 1,000 people from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria.

In a reception at the city’s Town House, the King met Inna Skvortsova, a Ukrainian woman who arrived in the city in April.

She now has a full-time role at the council assisting with the resettlement programme.

Ms Skvortsova said it was “such an honour” to be invited to meet the King.

She said: “Six months ago I didn’t expect that I would be here, or with the King, his majesty, and now I am proud to represent my country.

“I’m so grateful that the United Kingdom helped me and helped my compatriots.”

The monarch also met Burhan Vesal, who worked as an interpreter with the British Army in the south of Afghanistan.

He also met Mr Vesal’s wife, Narcis, who plans to use her medical experience as an Ob-Gyn to work as a doctor in the UK, and their son Sapehr, seven, who is enjoying school in the city.

Of meeting the monarch, Mr Vesal said: “It means a lot as a new immigrant. He spoke to us with openness and with laughter and joy.

“We ran away from conflict, we ran away from violence, in a hard situation, and now besides having the support from the community here, we have the support from the King and the Government.”

He added that the monarch was “touched” when Mr Vesal recounted his family’s life story.

The King also shared advice on being a good grandparent as the Afghan refugee, who asked to be known only as Yar to protect his identity, told Charles his family had expanded to 12 with a recent new addition.

Yar, who is still awaiting a permanent home in Aberdeen, had been employed as an interpreter with the Armed Forces and worked in Camp Bastion as an IT support worker before fleeing to Pakistan where he was evacuated to the UK.

He said: “This was my first time to meet the King and this is my whole life. He is a very kind person.

“I had a good chat with him telling my family story to him and he was really, really good and said that ‘now you’re going to have a safe life here’.”

He said Charles was “excited” to hear that he had just become a grandfather for the first time and wished him luck in dealing with a growing his growing family.

Before his departure, a choir of school children, university students and some of the refugee families sang a song, the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, to the monarch.

During an official visit to Jordan in November 2021, the King visited the Al Nuzha Community Centre which is supported by UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and met refugee families receiving UK assistance through UNHCR.

Aberdeen has resettled about 1,000 Ukrainian refugees, with capacity for more.

Approximately 170 Afghan refugees are currently staying in two hotels in the city and about 30 Syrian families have also been resettled in the city since 2014.

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