UK’s Support for Afghan Refugees: Think Tank Highlights Challenges and Shortcomings
The think tank More in Common has revealed that many Afghan refugees in the UK have been “let down” by the government, with some living in hotels for up to two years and now facing eviction. The organization has called for lessons to be learned to better support future refugees. Highlighting the need for improved UK’s support for Afghan refugees.
The Situation of Afghan Refugees
The think tank’s report comes on the anniversary of the UK’s evacuation programme and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on 15 August 2021.
Operation Pitting saw the UK airlift around 15,000 people out of Kabul. Including British nationals, as well as people who worked with the UK in Afghanistan and their family members.
Those who had nowhere to live were placed in government-funded hotels. This was supposed to be temporary accommodation.
But by the end of March, there were still around 8,800 Afghans living in hotels. Highlighting the need for better UK’s support for Afghan refugees.
Challenges Faced by Afghan Refugees
More in Common surveyed 132 Afghans in the UK and found failures in communication with local authorities and the Home Office on housing.
Rental applications were repeatedly rejected, and unsuitable homes were offered, sometimes hundreds of miles away.
One example saw a refugee living in temporary accommodation in Bristol. Where they had family, offered permanent housing in Northern Ireland.
Amir Hussain Ibrahimi, a 24-year-old Afghan refugee, was evacuated from Afghanistan by the UK two years ago and has been living in a hotel in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, ever since.
He was forced to leave his family behind after being arrested and attacked by the Taliban. Ibrahimi, who was a journalist and photographer in Afghanistan, said he had felt depressed at times since coming to the UK.
He was relieved that the council had finally found him a permanent home after being rejected by more than 10 landlords.
Government’s Response to UK’s Support for Afghan Refugees
Cabinet Office minister Johnny Mercer, who is responsible for the resettlement scheme. Acknowledged that Afghan families had been in hotels “for far too long.”
He said that the deadline for people to leave hotels by the end of August had been “a controversial move” . But was done “with compassion in mind.” He noted that 440 Afghans had been matched to homes in the past week.
The government said it had provided £285m of funding to help move Afghans into permanent homes. With more than 10,500 people moved from hotels to long-term accommodation so far.
However, councils have faced challenges, including a shortage of housing. The Local Government Association blamed a “delay in funding and guidance from government for creating a lot of uncertainty.”
The UK’s Responsibility: UK’s Support for Afghan Refugees
Sir Laurie Bristow, who was the UK’s ambassador to Afghanistan when Kabul fell to the Taliban, said Britain has a responsibility to those who worked for the UK there.
He noted that there are people in Afghanistan and in refugee camps who worked for the UK and whose lives are in danger as a result.
Meanwhile, charities have criticized resettlement schemes for being too slow. And leaving many people who want to come to the UK stuck in Afghanistan.
Human rights organization Justice called for quicker processing times and better communication with applicants.
Mr. Mercer acknowledged that some people had been left behind after the Taliban takeover and had still not been brought to safety. However, he said he was determined to make resettlement schemes “work properly” . And that the UK should be “proud” of its efforts to rescue people.