Afghan evacuees in UK face homelessness and destitution, MPs say

MPs say Afghans evacuated to Britain face homelessness and homelessness amid confusion over plans to house them. And basic supplies for newborns and mothers, which are largely provided by volunteers, do not always reach them, raising concerns about their ongoing care.

Most of the families were transferred from quarantine to “bridge” hotels. But some, including traumatized British citizens, struggle to find housing. Others are expelled from their support networks. A man who has lived in North London for 23 years told The Guardian that he was depressed after being sent to a hotel more than a hundred miles from his relatives. Another was asked to take a bus with his sick daughter to Liverpool, despite a claim for emergency housing in London.

Ellie Reeves, a Labor MP for Lewisham West and Bing, said five families in her constituency faced “homelessness and destitution because the Home Office and local authorities could not decide who would house them.” She said a family, including a British man, his wife seven months pregnant with him and their four children under the age of 10, had found a last-minute makeshift shelter unsuitable for their use during the day.

“What does a seven-month pregnant woman with four children under the age of 10 do all day? There must be a joint approach between the Home Office and local authorities,” Reeves said. She doesn’t take care of people. ”

Another Brit, whose daughter was crushed to death at Kabul airport, lives in a studio apartment with his brother and 13-year-old son, a bed between them, Reeves said.

The lack of coordination between the authorities responsible for the evacuees has alienated people hundreds of kilometers from their support networks. Afghani, Zia Maliki, an assistant and translator for British journalists in Afghanistan with a request for emergency housing in Hammersmith and Fulham, said she was ordered to travel 200 miles by bus with her son ill with her.

Maliki, a father of three currently in London, said he was told by security guards to board the bus last week. I asked where they were taking us. They said, “We don’t know.” I saw on paper that it was Liverpool. They told us, “You have to pack.” The bus would arrive in half an hour.

“We were scared. I told them that my little girl is very sick, that she is vomiting and coughing. I said that we are trying to settle in London. Can you speak to my lawyer who is helping me? They said no, we don’t.” they want to talk to anyone. I don’t know if they have no information or not. They want to tell us. ”

Her seven-month-old daughter, Manhal, has had diarrhea since she left Afghanistan on August 28. She was seen by a doctor at the hotel who recommended changing the formula, which the owners said the hotel could not provide.

Andy Slaughter, a Labor MP from Hammersmith, said he referred Malki’s case to a member of the city’s housing cabinet. “She’s a very confusing picture,” Slaughter said. “As far as I know MPs are not told anything. If they have to move the family because it is a quarantine hotel, why move them 200 miles? If they have a housing application, it should be considered.”

Abdul Ghaffar, who has lived in Barnet and worked as a minivan driver for 23 years, said he was sent to a hotel in Grantham, more than 100 miles from his support network. Ghafir was evacuated from Kabul after traveling to the country to visit his wife Simi and his three children, Sarah, 22, Qar, 17, and Salman, 15.

“I have friends and relatives in Barnet who can help us,” Gaffer said. “I am a British citizen. I am grateful to the government, but I am not happy here. My GP in Hendon sent me a prescription for depression pills. My situation is so bad. I don’t sleep, I don’t eat. I don’t know how long. We will be here. No one can tell me. ”

Last week, the Afghanistan and Central Asia Association (ACAA) delivered clothing, strollers, toiletries and other items to more than 200 people, half of them children, living in a bridge hotel. The families were greeted by Persian-speaking volunteers with suitcases with room numbers, thanks to an online ordering system created by the charity.

Ikram Agha, 18, an evacuated business student with his brothers Massoud, 14, and Based, four and seven other family members, said he was happy with the donations and hoped the shoes would replace the slippers that he carried. since he left Afghanistan. But he was eager to speak with a government official to find out about his future.

“I feel sad here because we don’t have a home,” Agha said. “I need to go to college, play soccer or cricket. I need help from the government, they won’t come here.”

Charities say the lack of a coordinated response from the central government is hampering efforts to support Afghan families. At least seven babies were born to Afghans who were evacuated to Britain, according to West Middlesex Hospital, which provides maternity care.

ACAA volunteer Rose McGrath said she was concerned about continuing newborn care after she was told that at least one family, possibly two, were no longer in the hotels shortly after her birth.

“We don’t have any advance warning of what’s going to happen next,” McGrath said. “We received a request from West Middlesex Hospital to pick up and deliver a family package for a newborn baby. But when we got to the hotel, they told us the family had left.”

On another occasion, another charity asked them to provide a newborn care package for a family at a hotel, but the hotel told them it was not necessary.

A source close to the Greenwich Council said they have offered homes for two families with newborns, including a premature baby, so they can continue to receive the same care. But the source said the Interior Ministry had not returned to the council. Greenwich had more than 700 people in quarantined hotels, including newborns. But now the source said: “People are disappearing.” “We don’t know where they are.”

Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council said he believed people would be in hotels for months. He said the support available to families in building bridges to hotels was “inconsistent and erratic” and that the voluntary sector had to fill in the gaps.

“The government is really struggling to deliver a coherent and consistent support package to every Afghan family,” Solomon said.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said: “We are continuing to work with local authorities to provide adequate accommodation as quickly as possible, although we have had to use hotels as a temporary measure due to unprecedented demand. Families are being served full meals. and we are working to make sure they have the essentials and support exactly what they need.

This article was modified on September 20, 2021. An earlier version incorrectly placed Grantham in “hundreds of miles” north of London.