Up to 12,000 of the 15,000 Afghan refugees evacuated to the UK after Taliban takeover are still in hotels awaiting permanent home
- Government unable to give date for moving out of ‘bridging’ accommodation
- More than 300 local authorities have pledged support to source housing
- Operation Pitting saw the UK airlift to safety more than 15,000 Afghan refugees
Up to 12,000 of the 15,000 Afghan refugees evacuated to the UK after the Taliban takeover are still in hotels awaiting a permanent home, Parliament has been told.
Pressed at Westminster, the Government was unable to give a target date for moving people out of temporary ‘bridging’ accommodation, amid concerns it was hampering their ability to access services, including education, and rebuild their lives.
But Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford told the House of Lords work was continuing with more than 300 local authorities that had pledged support to source housing.
Up to 12,000 of the 15,000 Afghan refugees evacuated to the UK after the Taliban takeover are still in hotels awaiting a permanent home, Parliament has been told
She said a complicating factor was that some of the families were ‘quite big’ and so finding appropriate accommodation was ‘more of a challenge’.
Operation Pitting saw the UK airlift to safety more than 15,000 people judged to be at serious risk from the Taliban because of their role in assisting British forces during the 20-year-campaign in Afghanistan.
Responding to a question in the upper chamber, Lady Williams told peers: ‘The cross-government effort to ensure that people were brought from Afghanistan to the UK as quickly as possible meant that it was not always possible to arrange local authority support in advance of arrival.
‘In those cases we have put in place hotel bridging accommodation. There are approximately 12,000 Afghan people living in 80 bridging hotels.
‘This figure does change regularly as people move in and out of hotels.’
Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Young of Cookham, who raised the issue, said: ‘Following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan the Government deserves praise for evacuating some 15,000 people to safety in the UK and for then launching what it described as ‘one of the most generous schemes in our country’s history’ to resettle Afghan citizens.
‘While many are indeed rebuilding their lives, too many as we have just heard are still stuck in hotels with their children unable to access schools, with difficulty getting GP services and unable to work because of problems with visas.
‘So can the minister give a target date for moving into permanent accommodation the judges, the doctors, the members of parliament and the other brave men and women who worked alongside us in Afghanistan?’
Pressed at Westminster, the Government was unable to give a target date for moving people out of temporary ‘bridging’ accommodation
While unable to give a date, Lady Williams said: ‘We do however continue to work with local authorities to source appropriate accommodation as soon as possible for families who were evacuated to the UK.
‘And we are most grateful to the 323 local authorities who have pledged support.’
Asking how many people had been settled into permanent homes, Labour frontbencher Lord Rosser added: ‘Because there is no shortage of local authorities ready to provide support.’
Lady Williams said: ‘We brought 15,000 people here, 12,000 are in bridging hotels.
‘In terms of no shortage of offers there is slightly more complexity to that because some of the families are actually quite big and therefore sourcing accommodation that is suitable for larger families is perhaps more of a challenge than it might be.
‘But we are working at pace and across Government to get people permanent accommodation.’