BRADFORD should welcome those who are fleeing the "terrifying" situation in Afghanistan with "open arms", two local charities have said.

BEACON, which supports refugees in the district, said that the country's takeover by the Taliban must have been "traumatic" for the Afghan people.

The charity's team leader, Katy Armitstead, said that there has always been "support and good will" towards refugees in Bradford, and added that this must continue.

AROUK is a Bradford charity which supports the district's Rohingya community - many of whom came here as refugees. Its co-founder, Mohammed Amin, himself grew up in a refugee camp before moving to Bradford in 2012. He said the Rohingya community can empathise with the Afghan people, and said Bradford has a "shared responsibility" to welcome refugees.

"What we are seeing in Afghanistan is terrifying", said BEACON team leader Katy.

"People are fleeing, due to the risk of human rights breaches, particularly for women. There is a risk of forced marriages, abuse and trauma. It's a terrifying time for the Afghan people, and for refugees already in the UK, who may still have family and friends in Afghanistan.

"Bradford is a designated City of Sanctuary, and BEACON supports refugees from a variety of countries, with legal support, English classes and volunteers also offer accommodation in their houses.

"We ask that the Government recognises that there is now no way people from Afghanistan can go back. I think there is something like 3,000 people already waiting for a decision in the asylum system in the UK, and their cases need to be looked at.

"People have asked how they can help - one key thing is contacting your local MP, and making sure issues around refugees are on their agenda. The more people who speak up for refugees, the better chance we have that the Government will listen.

"Offering time as volunteer is an excellent way to support. The local authority are also working to co-ordinate a response - I think they will be putting something out around that, in terms of what donations are needed and where.

"We ask that people keep speaking up and help change the narrative around refugees. When this crisis is over, people should also be mindful that there are still people across the world seeking sanctuary, who need support - we hope people come to our organisation and others in Bradford which are supporting refugees."

Amin, of AROUK, added: "We are devastated by what has happened in Afghanistan. It is very shocking. Any Afghans who are coming to Bradford should be welcomed and given the opportunity to find safety in our city.

"For the Rohingya community, our people have faced decades of discrimination under the Myanmar Government, who made us one of the largest stateless populations in the world.

"We know the misery of that situation - and this is what many Afghans are going through. We can tell you from our lived experiences, that nobody would ever choose to be a refugee. You cannot imagine how terrifying it is.

"AROUK would be happy to support any Afghan refugees in Bradford. We work with asylum seekers in order to help them integrate effectively, so that they can start a new life in safety across the Bradford district."