Home Office reveals ‘almost all’ of the 8,000 Afghan nationals saved during Kabul airlift are STILL in hotels along with 70 unaccompanied refugee children with no date set for finding permanent homes after warnings the asylum hotel bill could hit £70m
- The UK rescued approximately 8,000 Afghan nationals during Kabul airlift
- Home Office Permanent Secretary said ‘almost all’ of them are still in hotels
- There are also 70 unaccompanied refugee children in the UK’s asylum hotels
- Officials were unable to say when they will all be moved to permanent housing
A Home Office chief today revealed that ‘almost all’ of the 8,000 Afghan nationals brought to the UK during the Kabul airlift are still staying in hotels.
Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary at the department, told MPs that approximately 7,000 Afghan citizens are still in an asylum hotel, almost a month after Operation Pitting ended on August 28.
Mr Rycroft also revealed there is a total of 70 unaccompanied refugee children staying in the temporary ‘bridging’ accommodation.
Home Office officials were unable to say when they expect the people to be moved to permanent housing as they said there is a ‘shortage of offers’ from councils.
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly said in August that housing migrants in hotels could cost up to £70million in the current financial year.
Matthew Rycroft, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, told MPs there is a total of 70 unaccompanied refugee children staying in temporary ‘bridging’ hotel accommodation
The UK rescued more than 15,000 people from Kabul during last month’s airlift, of whom more than 8,000 are Arap claimants
The Government launched Operation Warm Welcome to help Afghan citizens brought to the UK to rebuild their lives here.
Afghans and their families who worked with the British government and military during the Afghanistan conflict have been granted indefinite leave to remain under a scheme known as the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap).
The UK rescued more than 15,000 people from Kabul during last month’s airlift, of whom more than 8,000 are Arap claimants.
More than 100 councils have come forward to help families find permanent homes.
The Government has vowed to end its reliance on asylum hotels and is planning to construct more purpose-built accommodation.
Mr Rycroft told the Home Affairs Select Committee this morning: ‘I think the numbers [in asylum hotels] had got down to between 7-8,000 before Afghanistan came along and of course we have had, as you know, an evacuation of 15,000 people, many of who are now in hotel accommodation as short term accommodation, bridging from the managed quarantine service into the…’
Tory MP Tim Loughton asked Mr Rycroft how many Afghan citizens are still in hotel accommodation and he replied: ‘I think almost all of them… the 15,000 included the British nationals who were evacuated out of Afghanistan so in round numbers it was about 7,000 Afghans.’
Pressed on how many unaccompanied children are in the hotels, Mr Rycroft said: ’70 unaccompanied children. 16 are under-16s.’
Mr Rycroft said the Home Office is still encouraging councils to come forward with offers of permanent housing ‘because there continues to be a shortage of offers’.
He also revealed the average amount of time it takes to decide an asylum claim is ‘over a year’ and ‘it is going up’.
Tricia Hayes, second permanent secretary at the Home Office, later clarified that the 70 unaccompanied children is ‘across the whole of our hotel estate’ and that is ‘not just the Afghanistan cohort’.
Ms Hayes was asked when the Home Office expects the Afghan citizens to be permanently rehoused but she was unable to specify a date.
Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs in August that housing migrants in hotels could cost up to £70million in the current financial year
She told the committee: ‘On the question of the trajectory out of hotel accommodation, I completely agree that it is essential that we have a really strong partnership with local government in everything that we do in running the asylum system.
‘The good news is that since the Afghanistan repatriation we have already secured strong partnership relationships with more than 100 local authorities who are actively looking for places to find homes for families and for others.
‘We would really like to work with every local authority in the country and we would really encourage them to come to us and for us to see what we can do together because while I think we can’t at the minute put a date on when we are going to get people out of hotels I think we all really just want to do it as quickly as possible.’