Hundreds of Afghan refugees who settled successful London aft fleeing nan Taliban 18 months agone person been told they person only weeks to uproot and move 200 miles away, nan Guardian tin reveal.
The Home Office has told 40 families pinch 150 children who person lived for much than a twelvemonth successful Kensington, westbound London, that they must time off nan superior for different edifice successful Wetherby, connected nan outskirts of Leeds.
Some of nan refugees, who see a erstwhile Afghan wide and erstwhile British service translators, opportunity they will garbage to spell because their children, already traumatised by warfare and displacement, will suffer again by being forced to driblet retired of their schools.
Others person recovered jobs successful London and are concerned they will not find activity successful West Yorkshire.
It comes amid deepening concerns that nan location secretary, Suella Braverman, has grounded to uphold promises made by Boris Johnson to support Afghans who worked and fought alongside nan UK successful Afghanistan.
The authorities intends to move each Afghan families retired of hotels by nan extremity of this year, according to briefings fixed to section councils. An estimated 9,000 Afghans are still surviving successful impermanent accommodation successful nan UK 18 months aft being evacuated from Afghanistan nether Operation Pitting. Western forces withdrew and nan Taliban took powerfulness successful August 2021.
The families resisting a move to Wetherby were evacuated to nan UK because a family personnel worked alongside nan British authorities. They are presently housed successful a four-star edifice adjacent nan Victoria and Albert Museum. Last week, immoderate received letters telling them they must move to nan Mercure edifice successful Wetherby.
Hamidullah Khan, a erstwhile parliamentary advisor successful Kabul who was evacuated to nan UK pinch his woman and 3 sons aged betwixt 4 and 14, said nan authorities had surgery a bid of promises to thief them find lodging of their own.
“We asked nan Home Office: ‘Why do you want to unit america out?’ and they say: ‘This edifice is expensive. The Leeds edifice is cheaper.’ But we didn’t take this edifice aliases this area to unrecorded in, nan Home Office did,” he said. “Now we person been here, not retired of choice, for 18 months. Our children are going to section schools, and successful nan mediate of nan schoolhouse twelvemonth they inquire america to leave.”
Khan has asked nan Home Office to extremity paying tens of thousands of pounds successful edifice fees and alternatively enactment arsenic a guarantor truthful he tin spend to rent a spot adjacent London. “Please do not nonstop america to a Leeds edifice wherever our children will suffer their schooling. They whitethorn person to driblet retired of their twelvemonth because they won’t person places for them there,” he said.
Another refugee, a erstwhile wide successful nan Afghan service who came to nan UK pinch six children, said astir edifice residents had decided they would protestation against nan scheme and garbage to leave. “Two children who lived successful this edifice are successful hospital, and their parents are being asked to move on. Some group now person jobs. We cannot conscionable time off these responsibilities and commencement again,” he said.
The refugees received letters from nan Home Office that stagger their moving dates complete respective days, starting connected 7 February.
Many of nan refugees opportunity they are suffering from intelligence wellness problems that will only get worse if they are displaced again.
A 3rd antheral edifice resident, 44, who worked successful logistics pinch nan Ministry of Defence successful Kabul earlier evacuating to London pinch his family, said he was anxious astir nan plight of his brothers who are successful hiding aft being captured and tortured by nan Taliban. His woman has been suffering from blackouts, and his eldest boy has threatened to termination himself.
“We dream to unrecorded independently successful nan UK. But nan promises of thief uncovering a location person travel and gone, and now this threat of being forced to move,” he said.
The Home Office sent letters to nan residents complete nan past 3 weeks, telling them that nan Kensington edifice “will nary longer beryllium disposable for nan Home Office truthful we will move everyone into replacement accommodation” successful Wetherby.
A spokesperson said its officials had been telling nan refugees since September that a move would beryllium necessary.
In Wetherby, immoderate residents person already voiced their guidance to nan section edifice taking successful Afghan residents. One told nan Leeds Live website successful November that nan authorities had been “underhand and secretive”.
As good arsenic drafting up plans to defy being forced to move retired of Kensington, immoderate of nan Afghan refugees scheme to show extracurricular parliament connected Friday morning.
Operation Warm Welcome was launched successful August 2021 to assistance nan afloat integration of Afghans into British life aft nan UK followed nan US successful abandoning Kabul to nan Taliban. Johnson arsenic premier curate said astatine nan time: “We will ne'er hide nan brave sacrifice made by Afghans who chose to activity pinch america astatine awesome consequence to themselves.”
The Home Office is required nether nan Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act to “safeguard and beforehand nan use of children erstwhile it makes immoderate migration decision”.
Last summer, nan authorities began encouraging Afghans to find their ain homes to rent, but for galore it has proved difficult. Many backstage landlords do not rent to those connected cosmopolitan in installments and astir Afghans struggle to find a guarantor.
According to Peymana Assad, a Labour councillor successful Harrow who is of Afghan origin, galore Afghans are uncovering it difficult to move connected from hotels because they person debased incomes and ample families.
“With refugees being kicked retired of hotels by nan Home Office, councils crossed nan state will spot bum applications from them and galore refugees will beryllium backmost wherever they started, successful a hotel,” she said.
Asked to respond to nan refugees’ elaborate claims, a Home Office spokesperson said its officials had been telling nan refugees for months that they would person to move to adjacent Leeds.
“While hotels do not supply a semipermanent solution, they do connection safe, unafraid and cleanable accommodation. We will proceed to bring down nan number of group successful bridging hotels, moving group into much sustainable accommodation arsenic quickly arsenic possible,” they said.
“Occasionally families whitethorn beryllium moved from a edifice scheduled for closure to different hotel. In these instances, families are fixed due announcement of a move and are supported by their section authority. We are proud this state has provided homes for much than 7,500 Afghan evacuees, but location is simply a shortage of section lodging accommodation for all.”
One of nan appointed leaders of nan organization surviving wrong nan Kensington edifice is simply a 60-year-old general from Jalalabad state who spent 10 years moving alongside nan UK forces connected intelligence matters.
Two weeks ago, 1 of his sons who remains successful Afghanistan was captured and tortured by nan Taliban. While being tortured, nan boy was asked whether his begetter mightiness return successful speech for nan son’s freedom. The boy has been freed but is nether surveillance, he said.
The wide came to nan UK successful August 2021 on pinch his woman and six of his children, 2 of whom are now studying for A-levels while nan remainder are successful college.
Ali, 54, worked arsenic an accredited taste advisor and translator pinch nan British and US armies successful Afghanistan for 4 years. He came to nan UK pinch his woman and 2 young sons successful August 2021, and said that initially nan Home Office said they would beryllium good looked after, but they had received very small help.
Recently he landed a translating job, and he is concerned that he will not beryllium capable to get an balanced occupation successful Yorkshire. “The edifice is 1 hr distant from nan metropolis centre, and we will beryllium 300 caller group trying to get connected nan buses which do not travel very often. How americium I going to get a job? And which schools will invited my children?” he said.
Gulalai, 25, came to nan UK connected an removal formation pinch her father, who is simply a British citizen. She besides qualified for nan formation because her uncle was a wide successful nan army. Many of her family stay successful hiding successful Afghanistan.
She is studying for her GCSEs and hopes to go a lawyer 1 day, mindful that her friends successful Afghanistan cannot study astatine all. Asked really she was coping pinch life successful a hotel, she said: “I person superior worry issues for months now but my acquisition is nan only point which gives maine immoderate comfortableness and happiness. I person immoderate bully friends astatine college.”