Thousands of Afghan refugees stranded in undated British hotels to be transferred to permanent homes | UK News
Thousands of Afghan refugees – including former interpreters who worked for British troops and children without their parents – are stranded in hotels and hostels in the UK with no date for which they will be moved to permanent homes after their evacuation from Afghanistan.
A number of newcomers, while being extremely grateful to be safe from the Taliban, said they hoped the limbo would end soon so they could start their new lives.
To put it bluntly, the British military veterans who helped the Afghan the refugees urged the interior ministry to speed up resettlement efforts or risk failing the brave men and women who had risked their lives to support the UK.
A former officer, Colonel Simon Diggins, also warned that there was a danger of radicalization if people waited too long and promises of a “warm welcome” were broken.
He said saving families from the Taliban was only part of the government’s job.
“We have to get them to a place where they can start to settle, where they can start not only to survive, but to thrive,” he told Sky News.
“Let them live their best life in this country. Let’s show them the best of this country. We don’t see that right now.”
Boris Johnson launched Operation Warm welcome in late August after the UK evacuated more than 15,000 Afghans, British nationals and others from Afghanistan in two weeks following a Taliban takeover.
In addition to previous rescue flights that began in June, the evacuees included some 7,000 people and their families who arrived as part of a resettlement program for Afghan interpreters and other staff who had worked for the UK in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.
Everyone had to spend their first 10 days in Britain in a quarantine hotel.
They were then supposed to be moved to temporary “transitional housing” until permanent housing could be found.
But a lack of space has forced some families to stay in their quarantine hotel beyond the 10 days required by COVID rules – although all are now out of quarantine – while authorities are even considering Pontins’ holiday camps. as a possible option to temporarily accommodate people.
A man who arrived with his wife and son in July – a month before the main evacuation effort – is still waiting for permanent housing and a national insurance number so he can start looking for a job.
The former interpreter asked to remain anonymous to speak about his situation because he feared to undergo a reaction from the Ministry of the Interior and to want to protect his identity from the Taliban.
He said he and his family shared a single room in what is normally a homeless house in an English town, with two or three other Afghan families.
They have a shower and a kitchen between them.
“It’s pretty uncomfortable right now,” he said.
“It’s a small place, but we have to make do until they find a place.”
When asked how long he will have to wait, the man replied, “They give no guarantees as to how long it will take, but they give us hope that they are working on this issue.”
The Home Office said more than 100 councils across the country have agreed to house Afghan refugees.
However, it appears that eight London boroughs are temporarily hosting the largest number of new arrivals until they can find permanent accommodation.
The head of the Kensington and Chelsea council said some 800 Afghan refugees were living in three hotels in his borough – which is also home to some of London’s wealthiest people.
Many Afghan families arrived traumatized and with nothing.
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Sky News saw dozens of Afghans hanging out in the lobby, restaurant and meeting rooms of one of the hotels.
Councilor Elizabeth Campbell said around 300 of the new arrivals are children, of which up to 20% are believed to be unaccompanied minors, brought to the UK by adults who were not their parents in panic and despair to flee Afghanistan.
“We’re trying to figure out – do people they came with their aunts or not their aunts? Is it a larger family? Do they want to take responsibility?” she said.
“Then we have to marry that with all the legal requirements to see what functions we have.”
Council staff work tirelessly to help families, many of whom do not speak English. Many newcomers do not yet have the right documents to be able to receive benefits, so they depend on charitable donations and counseling.
Councilor Campbell said she hoped the Home Office would provide permanent accommodation for refugees before Christmas, but added that the council was making arrangements for children of primary school age to start attend local schools while they wait.
“These people (…) came out of a country torn by war,” she said.
“Being in a hotel of course is beautiful, it’s asylum for a week or so. But you want to move on. You want to be able to take root, settle down and move on with your life. You can’t do that. in a hotel.”
Of the thousands of Afghans who have recently arrived in the UK, it is understood that hundreds have been permanently housed.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “A significant intergovernmental effort is underway to ensure that the thousands of Afghans who have been evacuated to the UK receive the support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, continue their studies and integrate into their local communities. .
“We have already committed £ 200 million to cover the cost of the first year of the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Program, which aims to accommodate up to 20,000 Afghans.