Afghan nationals are due to be moved into Chickerell Camp from today as part of a temporary accommodation scheme.

The Dorset army training camp will house up to 60 people for six weeks at a time. This will amount to 250 people over six months.

It will accommodate families who are eligible to settle in the UK due to their contribution to UK objectives in Afghanistan.

They will then move into more permanent lodgings under the responsibility of local authorities.

It is part of a wider scheme to relocate entitled people who worked with or for the British Armed Forces and other Government departments throughout operations in Afghanistan.   

Chickerell Camp has been selected by the MoD as a site to temporarily accommodate Afghan Nationals as part of the MoD’s ARAP Scheme – Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.

From Wednesday, December 13, eligible families will begin to move into Chickerell Camp. 

Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, welcomed the plans to house people who supported British Armed Forces abroad.

He said: “We are looking at a change of use for Chickerell camp for six months in total.

“We expect to be welcoming four groups of Afghan people for six weeks at a time so there will be around 60 people at any one time.

“These are people who supported our Armed Forces and Secret Service abroad and who are no longer safe.

“I think this is the right thing to do.”

"Not like the barge"

Mr Loder said the proposal is “completely different” to the situation with the Bibby Stockholm at Portland Port and says he welcomes the plans.

He said: “It is completely different to the Portland barge.

“We are welcoming people who supported our armed forces for a short period as part of a process to make sure they find a safe place.

“I am pleased we are doing this and playing our part in helping those in genuine need.”

It is currently unclear what provisions will be put in place for the healthcare of the people who will move into Chickerell.

Mr Loder did raise some concerns about how the policy will affect the army cadet base in Chickerell and additional pressure on local healthcare services.

He added: “I met with the minister to be clear that I am expecting an alternative provision to be found because it is not acceptable to me that young people aspiring to be armed forces lose out because of this.

“I am not clear about healthcare provisions and I have made enquiries about this.

“We have got a situation where the GP surgery in Chickerell has not been open for a couple of years.

“It is unacceptable for local people that we could allow a GP to close and find a solution for this.”

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: "We understand the Ministry of Defence (MoD) intends to use Chickerell Camp, near Weymouth to provide temporary accommodation to people from Afghanistan.

"This is part of a wider scheme to relocate entitled people who worked with or for the British Armed Forces and other Government departments throughout operations in Afghanistan.   

"The people we understand will be staying at Chickerell Camp will be men, women and children and are not refugees, they are entitled persons who have a right to remain in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

"They are entitled to live, work and access all services and benefits here, in recognition of their support to the British Government and British armed forces, our military and personnel, when based in Afghanistan. 

"The Chickerell Camp arrangements are not linked to, nor are anticipated to have any impact on the Home Office Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port. 

"To our knowledge, people will be housed here temporarily for up to 6 weeks at a time, while their more permanent homes at other MOD sites across the UK are prepared."

A Government spokesperson said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those brave Afghans who risked their lives working alongside our forces in support of the UK”.

“To ensure ARAP eligible families, who have the legal right to remain in the UK, can begin a settled life in the UK as quickly as possible, the UK Government is offering transitional and settled accommodation from the Ministry of Defence Estate, including at Chickerell”.