Priti Patel is under increasing pressure to remedy “appalling” delays in relocating Afghans to Britain, as it is claimed that 4,000 children are still being accommodated temporarily in hotels.
Five months after Kabul fell to the Taliban, interior minister faces backlash from lawmakers over lack of progress in finding permanent housing for more than two-thirds of refugees evacuated during seizure of power .
Of the 15,000 Afghans initially flown in, 12,000 were still in temporary “transitional” accommodation in early December, sources telling The Telegraph that at least 4,000 were children.
The Home Office declined to confirm or deny the figures, although it disputed a source’s claims that up to one in four children have not started school. Instead, he provided figures from the Ministry of Education indicating that 95% of children had been enrolled.
This means that one in 20 children are still waiting to be placed, although the government has said it is confident the remaining children will be placed in the coming weeks.
Enver Solomon, Executive Director of the Refugee Council, said: “Hotels are not suitable accommodation for a child in the long term. They have nowhere to play and have to share limited space.
“We know that although most have received a school, there are still many without any education. This is not the warm welcome they were promised in August.
The disclosure comes days after it was claimed that Ms Patel had rejected proposals put forward by Sajid Javid, the health secretary, to impose compulsory Afghan refugee allowances on all local authorities, rather than s’ rely on a voluntary system.
In a sign of growing tensions over the issue, Victoria Atkins, the Afghan Resettlement Minister, suggested on Sunday that some councils had not done enough.
While praising the 300 who have volunteered to date, she said, “More local authorities must come forward and do their part in the national effort to help those who seek to rebuild their lives here. That’s why we have a generous funding agreement for the councils to provide support to Afghan families over three years.
The Home Office also underlined that the government was giving councils £ 20,520 per person over three years and had extended a sponsorship program to encourage local community groups to support resettled Afghans.
However, Johnny Mercer, the former Minister of Veterans Affairs who served in Afghanistan, said, “It is appalling that these people have to endure such a long period of time in hotels. We need to integrate these children into schools and their families in our communities across the UK. ”
Chris Bryant, Labor member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, added: “These are children who will have been traumatized by the events of the past 18 months. You need them to be in stable education and housing as soon as possible. Otherwise, you are just creating future problems.
Separately, the Interior Ministry has also been accused of weakening its initial commitment to provide refuge to an additional 20,000 Afghans over the next five years through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Program, which was launched last week.
The program is available to those who were not eligible under the initial Afghan resettlement and assistance policy. It has now emerged that some of the Afghans from the original program will be moved to the new program, which critics say violates the government’s promise last summer.