KABUL – Afghan refugees who sought shelter in the UK are finding themselves homeless and seeking assistance from local councils after being forced out of government-run hotels in what is being deemed a “shameful” series of evictions.
These families, many of whom collaborated with or worked for the British government and armed forces in Afghanistan, sought refuge in the UK following the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. Approximately 8,000 Afghan individuals residing in interim bridging hotels were issued eviction notices by the end of May, and were granted a three-month window by the government to secure their own housing.
Presently, the Local Government Association (LGA), an entity representing various councils, has voiced concerns over reports indicating that nearly 20 percent of those evicted have reported themselves as homeless to local authorities. The process of emptying these hotels is being carried out in phases, with individuals in smaller accommodations being relocated first.
Labour MP Dan Jarvis, who served in Afghanistan, expressed his dismay over families falling into homelessness, deeming it “shameful”. While acknowledging the necessity to transition individuals out of hotels, he criticized the government’s accelerated pace in doing so. Jarvis asserted that these refugees are not economic migrants, but individuals who endangered their lives to aid British forces in Afghanistan upon the UK’s request. He underscored the obligation to ensure proper relocation for these individuals, asserting, “Nobody should face homelessness, and it is imperative that these individuals are granted the necessary time and conditions.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Jarvis stated, “We risk witnessing both ethical shortcomings and unsound public policy by inadvertently creating homeless families. Given our debt of gratitude to them, our approach should prioritize a measured transition for Afghan families, affording local authorities adequate time to identify suitable residences. The notion of individuals being compelled into homelessness is deeply regrettable.”
Councillor Shaun Davies, chair of the LGA, raised concerns about the ongoing situation, affirming that Afghan households across the nation have begun leaving hotels and are, as feared, approaching councils as homeless individuals. Davies criticized the predicament where families are forced to exit Home Office-funded hotels only to subsequently relocate to temporary accommodations. He cautioned that the situation might deteriorate further as the Home Office ceases its funding for the remaining bridging hotels for Afghan families in the upcoming days and weeks.
In Northampton, a spokesperson from the local council revealed that approximately 50 individuals are left without housing options upon eviction. Within the region, there are 179 Afghans residing in hotels, all of whom have been served notices to vacate by the end of August.