LONDON: Local politicians across the UK are making contingency plans to house Afghan refugees in hotels for up to a year, as progress on finding them long-term accommodation slows.
So far, around 1,500 of the 8,500 Afghans airlifted out of Kabul by British forces more than two months ago have been provided long-term accommodation, leaving roughly 7,000 without a permanent home in the UK, and with no guidance on when they will be provided, the Guardian reported.
Many of those brought to the UK had worked alongside British or coalition forces as interpreters or in other support roles.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously committed to supporting them, saying: “We will never forget the brave sacrifice made by Afghans who chose to work with us, at great risk to themselves.”
But local councils across Britain are struggling to deal with the influx of refugees and the logistical challenges they pose.
Some councils, the Guardian reported, said they had received no support from the Home Office in providing immediate needs assessment on arrivals, and an official from one said they were given no notice that the government was block-booking hotels in the area for refugees.
“We’re planning for a year, to be honest,” said one unnamed central London hotel official. “We don’t think it will be quick.”
Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle City Council, who heads the UK’s Local Government Association Asylum, Refugees and Migration Task Group, told the Guardian: “I get no sense that the government sees this as an urgent priority. I’m concerned that now they are in hotels they are out of sight and out of mind.”
There have also been warnings that hotel conditions are not suitable for the many children to have been evacuated to Britain.
“There are kids in lots of hotels with nothing to do; their mental health wellbeing is not being met, they are becoming frustrated and playing up. We could and should be doing better,” one charity worker said after visiting several London hotels, where 4,000 people are being housed.
Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, told the Guardian that finding long-term accommodation for 7,000 people would be possible if just half of the UK’s 343 local authorities offered to house 60 people, adding: “That’s just 12 homes each — that should be doable, shouldn’t it?”