LONDON: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked landlords to house thousands of Afghan refugees stuck in temporary accommodation over a year since fleeing their homeland.
The Home Office says of the 21,450 people evacuated to the UK following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021, 9,667 are still living in hotels at a total cost of over £1 million ($1.17 million) per day to the taxpayer.
In addition to Afghan refugees, there are 30,000 asylum seekers of other nationalities being put up in hotels across the UK, at an additional daily cost of around £4 million. The UK’s total annual bill for asylum seekers is currently around £2 billion.
Just 7,385 Afghan evacuees have found permanent homes, with authorities citing the large sizes of many refugee families — seven people on average, as opposed to an average of three people per UK household — as a particular issue in rehousing them.
Patel wrote in The Times: “I urge landlords and local authorities to come forward with suitable homes. The government will continue to do everything possible to expedite moving those still in hotels into sustainable accommodation, while delivering value for money for the taxpayer.”
The UK’s housing shortage is also playing a part in the crisis, with local authorities struggling to find enough dwellings despite receiving £20,500 per refugee resettled in their area.
Despite this, the UK has pledged to take in another 3,500 Afghans trying to escape the Taliban, and Patel is readying plans to stop councils blocking refugees from being moved to their areas.
The UK also houses around 83,900 Ukrainian refugees. Campaigners for Afghan refugees have urged the British government to launch a similar campaign to that launched to drum up support for Ukrainian refugees, dubbed “Homes for Afghans.”