The evacuation effort in Kabul in August last year resulted in 16,000 Afghans reaching safety in the UK. However, in terms of housing, services and staff, the facilities available to help refugees in the past essentially no longer exist. Around 9,550 people have since been stuck in 70 hotels at the cost of £1mn per day and there is evidence that the mental health of families in this situation is deteriorating. The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme has done precious little for people left behind in the initial evacuation. With all other safe and legal routes closed, Afghans who make their own treacherous journeys to the UK to join their families are now threatened with deportation to Rwanda.
The government acknowledges that around 6,000 people eligible to be resettled in the UK remain in Afghanistan and many of those who applied under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy have still not heard from the government a year later. Many now say that they regret working with the British. Despite this, calls for a public enquiry into the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan have so far been dismissed.
Refugee Action argues that taking 20,000 refugees in five years is too few and too slow. The government must accelerate the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme; create new safe routes to the UK; and do more to support and finance local authorities to move people out of hotels and into safe and affordable private-rented-sector homes, so that people do not become homeless.