New data released today (Thursday 25 August) shows that the UK is fulfilling its obligations to the Afghan people and remains committed to ensuring their protection.
Data on the number of Afghans resettled in the UK since April 2021 shows that more than 11,300 Afghans have been granted indefinite leave, thanks to bespoke visa programs put in place for them.
In addition, nearly 21,500 British and Afghan nationals were brought to safety before, during and after Operation Pitting, the largest air evacuation since World War II.
The situation on the ground, both in Afghanistan and the UK, remains complex, as Afghans continue to arrive in the UK and a steady flow of people move into fixed accommodation each week.
The Ministry of Interior is working to resettle hundreds of Afghan arrivals per month over the next three years under the Afghan Resettlement and Assistance Policy (ARAP) for current and former local employees in Afghanistan , while the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Program (ACRS) will accommodate up to 20,000 people in need, including women and children, LGBT+, religious and ethnic minorities.
Thanks to ACRS, the government has started to receive its first referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and will bring the first arrivals to the UK as soon as possible. From next year, the government will start working with international partners and NGOs so that the UK can accommodate wider at-risk groups. As a result, next year more than 3,500 Afghans are expected to arrive in the UK under ACRS.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
The evacuation from Afghanistan was a race against time to get people out – the stakes had never been higher. The UK has a well-deserved reputation for extending the hand of friendship to those in need and I am incredibly proud that nearly 21,500 people have so far managed to find safety in the UK thanks to a huge government effort and the determination of the British public. to help in very difficult, complex and intense circumstances.
A year later, our work to help resettled Afghans in the UK has not stopped – there are still weekly flights, our resettlement programs remain open and we will welcome thousands more to our country. We are also doing all we can to move families into homes and I urge landlords and local authorities to provide suitable accommodation.
The two visa regimes in place for Afghans fleeing the Taliban, ARAP and ACRS, will enable Afghans to rebuild their lives in the UK, including enjoying full access to public services, education and benefits, including universal credit, as well as the right to work as soon as they arrive here. In less than a year, nearly 7,400 Afghan evacuees have found permanent accommodation.
The government is working hard to provide housing for Afghans, but data released today shows that 9,667 Afghans live in 66 relay hotels. As a result, more than 2,000 properties are needed, so that families can move from hotels to houses.
The Home Office and the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities are reaching out to landlords, property developers and the wider private rental sector, including property website RightMove, to encourage new housing offers.
In addition, the government is working directly with educational organizations to transform student accommodation into long-term housing for Afghan families.
Refugees Minister Lord Harrington said:
Finding long-term housing for Afghans is a very real and complex challenge. Although the number of hotels in operation has decreased, we are determined to get people out of transitional accommodation as quickly as possible so that Afghans can start their new lives in the UK.
We are doing everything in our power to encourage municipalities and owners to come forward, while looking for innovative solutions to find housing. The use of hotels is a temporary solution and is not a policy we want to pursue, but in the meantime they provide safe, clean and secure accommodation.