Why are Afghan Refugees being forced out of UK hotels?

Over the last two years, the UK’s efforts to secure housing for Afghan refugees have been hindered by the housing crisis, leading many asylum seekers to stay in hotels. Thousands of Afghan refugees hosted in UK hotels are facing eviction under the “Operation Warm Welcome” program, raising urgent questions about their future. This article explores the reasons behind the evacuation, the number of Afghan refugees in the UK, and the controversial British asylum law. The UK government’s approach to accommodating asylum seekers and the homelessness crisis are also discussed amidst mounting legal and humanitarian concerns.

 

Evacuation of hotels by Afghan refugees

The Guardian, while announcing the expulsion of Afghan refugees from UK hotels, added: “Council officials told No ten and Home Office civil servants that about 8,000 Afghan refugees, allowed into the country in 2021 under the slogan Operation Warm Welcome, are due to be evicted from hotels as early as August because of a government deadline, yet have nowhere to go. Thousands of Afghan refugees in the UK face homelessness this summer, the government was warned last week at a secret crisis meeting in Downing Street.”

 

The controversial draft of the British asylum law

The crisis meeting came hours before UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak quietly scrapped last year’s controversial asylum bill, which would have introduced a two-tier asylum system. According to the Guardian, Sunak is expected to face more problems when the parliamentary committee’s plan comes up because it says her illegal immigration plan violates several international human rights obligations and means the UK is “turning its back on the vast majority of refugees.”

 

Critical Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights

In a scathing report, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has urgently called upon the UK to fulfil its responsibility within the global refugee protection system and to honour its legal commitments towards refugees, children, and victims of modern slavery. During a crisis meeting on Thursday, attended by numerous private Home Office contractors, British officials deliberated on cost-effective strategies for relocating the substantial number of over 50,000 refugees currently housed in UK hotels.

Regrettably, the meeting brought to light a daunting reality: local councils would face significant challenges in assisting due to an acute shortage of accommodation and the prevailing UK housing crisis.

 

Asylum seekers cost £6 million a day

Sunak had previously said that his government had bought two more large ships to accommodate almost 1,000 refugees to reduce the number of asylum seekers living in UK hotels, said to be costing £6 million a day. The purchase of these ships has raised important questions. 

 

MPs were criticised for wasting taxpayers’ money

Members of the UK Parliament and council members accused the cabinet ministers of wasting taxpayers’ money and said that these sums could be only a part of the actual cost spent in this regard. According to experts, as the government’s problems with immigrants continue to pile up, the lack of suitable places to house asylum seekers could threaten the vitality of the illegal immigration bill.

 

Broad Ministerial Powers in Illegal Immigration Bill

This plan gives British cabinet ministers powers to detain and deport people illegally entering the country. Investigations conducted by the Refugee Council show that in the first three years of implementing this plan, more than 190,000 people may be detained or become poor.

 

Violation of international human rights obligations by the UK

The Joint Committee on Human Rights report warns that the UK will not meet its obligations under international human rights law if the plan is passed in its current form. These violations include denying refugees access to the asylum system, severely restricting human rights claims, denying protection to victims of modern slavery, and removing the right to appeal after the age assessment of asylum seekers.

 

Incompatibility of the illegal immigration bill with international law

Joanna Cherry, the head of the mentioned committee, questioned the claim of Suella Braverman, the British Home Secretary, that the illegal immigration bill is compatible with international laws and said: “We disagree. Having scrutinised the bill, it is overwhelmingly clear that it breaches several of the UK’s international human rights obligations.”

 

Expensive use of UK hotels for asylum seekers

The Home Office has announced that the government is committed to ending the use of expensive hotels for asylum seekers, so it is continuing to look for new, cheaper, and more manageable alternative places and ships. The Home Office has stated that the asylum system currently costs more than £3 billion a year, so taxpayers rightly expect the government to find alternative solutions.

 

Temporary accommodation of Afghans in UK hotels

The Home Office added that families had been forced into temporary accommodation due to severe shortages and long waiting lists. The British Home Office has recently told about 8 thousand people and several Afghan families to leave the hotels and find suitable housing by the end of August.

 

The increasing pressure of the government on Afghan refugees

Urban associations in the UK, referring to the history of helping refugees and resettlement in this country, stated that the government is increasing the pressure on them daily. The UK’s Local Government Association (LGA) also called for “better engagement with councils” and called on the Home Office to properly consider local concerns and impacts.

 

The forced departure of Afghans from UK hotels

Hundreds of Afghan refugees who went to the UK following the developments in Afghanistan were ordered by the government of this country to leave their hotels. The Home Office announced that these hotels were never intended for the long-term stay of Afghan refugees in this country. It is said that the Afghan refugees in Chelmsford have also received a letter stating they must leave their hotels by August 9. It is indicated in this letter that if they do not leave their accommodation by the specified date, they will be considered violators, and the Home Office is allowed to expel them from these hotels.

 

Confusion of British soldiers in Afghanistan

Hundreds of local colleagues of British soldiers are living in misery in Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries. The English newspaper Independent reported the slow process of transferring the former colleagues of the country’s government and army in Afghanistan; out of 1,049 eligible Afghans living in Pakistan, only two refugees have been transferred to the UK in the last three months. The UK government has told these Afghans, who include military translators and former employees of the British Embassy in Kabul, that they will be transferred from Pakistan if someone helps them find shelter in the UK.

 

The need for permanent settlement of Afghan refugees

According to Essex County Council and Southend City Council statistics, 76 Afghan families in this city, consisting of five to six people on average, need permanent accommodation. Some families have 10 or 12 members, and charities, councils, and the Home Office have been forced to look for homes with up to five or six bedrooms.

 

Afghan refugees worry about being deported from Pakistan.

Afghan refugees who meet the eligibility criteria shared their experiences with The Independent, revealing that they had initially arrived in Pakistan with the assurance of being transferred to the UK by the government. However, their expectations have been uncertain as they have resided in Islamabad hotels for several months without clarity on their transfer plans. This precarious situation has left them deeply concerned about the possibility of deportation from Pakistan, which could jeopardise their chance to reach the UK eventually. The Pakistani government’s recent announcement to expel foreign refugees lacking legal residence has added to their anxieties, as it poses a severe threat to their aspirations of finding safety and security in the UK.

 

The UK housing crisis and the homelessness of asylum seekers

According to a UK government spokesperson, it is not in the best interest of Afghan refugees who have sought shelter in the country to reside in hotels for prolonged periods. Due to the prevailing UK housing crisis, these refugees face the imminent threat of homelessness. Recent developments in Afghanistan have prompted many Afghans to seek refuge in the UK, placing additional strain on the already stretched housing resources. The Local Government Association has also issued a warning, highlighting the genuine risk of homelessness for Afghans seeking refuge in the country amidst the ongoing housing crisis.

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