LONDON: Afghan refugees across the UK are being made homeless after being evicted from government-funded hotels, the BBC reported.
After being offered sanctuary in the UK in the wake of the Taliban takeover in 2021, many of the Afghans — who served alongside Western forces — were evicted from their accommodation along with their families after being served three-month notices in May.
About 8,000 Afghans were living in bridging hotels, but the Local Government Association, which represents local councils across the UK, has warned that up to 20 percent of those evicted have since declared homelessness to local officials. Smaller hotels funded by the government are being vacated first.
Councils have a legal duty to find accommodation for homeless people, with officials fearing a surge in claims that would pressure an already overburdened local housing system.
The move to evict Afghan families from the hotels was described as “shameful” by Labour Party MP Dan Jarvis.
He said: “These are not economic migrants. These are Afghans who placed themselves in mortal peril to serve alongside British forces in Afghanistan and they did so at our request. These are people to whom we’ve given an invitation to come to our country.
“Nobody should be homeless and these people need to be given the time and space … to ensure that they are properly relocated.”
Several local councils have released figures detailing their struggles in housing refugees. West Northamptonshire Council said that about 50 Afghans in the area — out of 179 — have no alternative accommodation if evicted.
One council in Essex said it had nine Afghan families now facing homelessness as a result of the evictions.
Jarvis said: “There is a real risk here that we are seeing what is both morally flawed and poor public policy because homeless families are being created.
“We owe them a debt of gratitude, so I think what we need to do is move at a pace that sees these Afghan families transition in a way that allows local authorities the time to identify suitable accommodation.
“The notion that people are being forced to become homeless is just shameful. And we are creating another set of problems.”
The UK Home Office, which oversaw the sanctuary schemes for Afghans and subsequent eviction plan, said it had provided funding for local councils to ease the housing burden.
A spokesperson said: “Hotels are not, and were never designed to be, long-term accommodation for Afghans resettled in the UK and it is not in their best interests to be living in hotel accommodation for months or years on end.
“That is why we have announced a plan, backed by £285 million ($362 million) of new funding, to speed up the resettlement of Afghan nationals into long-term homes.
“Extensive government support is available and we will continue to do all we can to help Afghan families as they rebuild their lives here.”