Thousands of Afghan refugees to spend Christmas in temporary hotels in London
“Hotel accommodation is not suitable for families and local services are struggling to cope with demand,” Cllr Darren Rodwell, deputy chair of London Councils, said.
London Councils, the local government association for the capital, is calling on the government to speed up the settlement process as local services are struggling to cope.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, deputy chair of London Councils and leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “London boroughs are rightly proud of the work they are doing to support thousands of Afghans who served alongside British forces in Afghanistan, as they rebuild their lives following the unimaginable trauma of fleeing their homes.
“Alongside councils across the country, we work closely with the Home Office and other government departments to ensure Afghan evacuees get the care and support they need, putting our local knowledge and resources to use and making a real difference to these highly vulnerable families.
“However, five months on from Operation Pitting, London boroughs want to see faster progress on moving the roughly 4,000 evacuees in the capital into suitable longer-term homes.
“Hotel accommodation is not suitable for families and local services are struggling to cope with demand.
“We urge the government to continue working constructively with us so that Afghan families feel supported as they put down roots in the UK.”
London Councils said its boroughs have played an “instrumental role” in delivering wraparound support to families living in hotels, including providing new clothing, getting schools places for children and helping with hospital appointments.
Over the festive period a number of councils are working with local voluntary groups to arrange activities for families.
For example, a hotel for arrivals in Hammersmith and Fulham is hosting an Afghan dinner on Christmas day.
However, London Councils said supporting Afghan evacuees alongside its other responsibilities for refugees and asylum-seekers living locally is placing “huge pressure” on local services and housing.
Victoria Atkins, the minister for Afghan resettlement, said long-term accommodation has been found for around 4,000 Afghans and that 6,000 children have been placed in school.
Ms Atkins said: “We will continue to work with local authorities and the private rented sector to secure permanent homes for Afghan families so they can settle and integrate into the local community and rebuild their lives.
“To provide long-term security, it is important we take the appropriate time and effort to find families homes that suit their needs, including taking into account family size and any vulnerabilities.”
London boroughs are supporting thousands of asylum seekers in contingency hotels and providing accommodation and support to roughly one third of all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in England, London Councils said.