News Summary - August (part 1)

One year since the Taliban took over, Afghanistan has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile in the UK, thousands of Afghan sanctuary seekers are still waiting in bridging hotels for their asylum claim outcomes and to be allocated accommodation, as charities continue to point to the disparity between the treatment of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.


The Harbour Project, a UK charity, has warned of a variation in treatment between Ukranian and Afghan refugees in the UK. The charity describes how many Ukranians received immediate refugee status and housing, whilst many Afghans still remain in hotels. The Home Office has denied this, and suggested that the charity is attempting to “set these vulnerable groups against each other”. - BBC


Refugee minister Lord Harrington has appealed to councils to help house 10,500 Afghan refugees who are currently residing in hotels across the UK. He has suggested that 2000 properties are required to accommodate these people, with the government currently reaching out to landlords, property developers and the wider private rented sector. - BBC


Mawa, an Afghan refugee who fled Kabul last year with five members of her family, has reported being split up from her siblings by the Home Office. Initially, the family of six resided together in a hotel in Selby, North Yorkshire. However, Mawa, her mother and brother were later moved to a hotel in Crawley in West Sussex, her sister to a hotel in Leeds, and two of her brothers to a hotel in Manchester, 237 miles away from Crawley. She has described feeling like the past year has been wasted, as her family have not had a permanent base from which to build their lives. - Manchester Evening News


Concerns have been raised after a study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that a quarter of those sponsoring Ukranians as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme do not intend to continue providing accommodation after six months or less. Local Government Association chairman, James Jamieson, said he is in talks with the government about how to encourage sponsors to continue on with the scheme. However, he has warned that “there is significant risk that many Ukrainian families may need to present as homeless”. - BBC


During the 2022 Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR), the UNHCR pleaded with the 250 delegates to remember refugees in protracted situations across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This comes after the UNHCR identifies 2 million refugees in urgent need of resettlement, a 36% increase on last year’s projection. - Refugee Council


A Home Office source has stated that some Afghan refugees living in temporary accommodation across England have rejected offers by the Home Office to relocate to Scotland and Wales. Officials have attributed this to misconceptions about the regions, which they are working with families to clear up, such as a perceived language barrier and concerns about poor weather. - Nation.Cymru


One year after the Taliban took over Kabul, 9500 Afghan refugees are still living in bridging hotels. Afghan families have been told to look for their own housing after rejecting offers made by the Home Office, who are trying to "encourage Afghan families to move to other parts of the UK such as Wales". Charities are concerned that this might result in many refugees ending up homeless, as they "would not be able to find suitable accommodation in the private rented sector." There are many valid reasons why some refugees feel reluctant to leave London, such as the city being home the largest Afghan community in the UK or their children going to school here. - The Guardian


A survey by Refugee support charity, Care4Calais, has revealed that 18% of those living in camps in Calais and Dunkirk are Afghan. Of the Afghans surveyed, 87% said that they had family or friends in the UK whom they hoped to join. Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley has called on prime ministerial candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, to abandon the Rwanda policy, and work towards a legal route by which these people can join their friends and relatives in the UK. - Morning Star


One year after the Taliban took over Kabul, The Guardian reflects on what the UN called the world’s largest humanitarian crisis: “The nightmare is deepening. Afghans are now living with both Taliban repression and mass hunger.” Women and girls have been stripped of their human rights, banned from accessing education and employment; they can’t travel without a male relative accompanying them, and refusing to comply with the Taliban's strict dress code resulted in threats and beatings. The Taliban detains and kills their critics and opponents while parents are “forced to sell kidneys and children” in order to keep their families alive. - The Guardian


In collaboration with Untold, an organisation “working with writers marginalised by community or conflict, to develop and amplify their work,” Financial Times published excerpts from an online diary shared by women writers in Afghanistan. After the fall of Kabul, a group of women began to find solace in communicating with others via a messaging platform as the world took a dark turn. On the 15th of August, one entry reads: “We spent the day putting all our family’s books and documents in a bucket for my father to set fire to. I burnt all my books about journalism and politics. As each sheet was burning, I felt as if a part of me was burning. I have to destroy with my own hands the things that I value the most. I have to trample on them for my survival.” An anthology of short stories by the writers who contributed to this online archive has been released under the name of “My Pen is the Wing of a Bird: New Fiction by Afghan Women”. - Financial Times


Photojournalist Victor J. Blue first reported from Afghanistan in 2009 during the war, and more recently after the events of  August 2021, when the US troops withdrew from the country: “Before that day, Taliban fighters seemed like ghosts. I seldom saw them, but I always felt their presence.” It didn’t take long for the situation to take a turn for the worst: “I found a country that continues to lack a functioning economy. Crowds of women wait outside bakeries for handouts. Men who once held office jobs must now sell vegetables at the market or peddle used goods to be able to buy a little bit of food to take home.” Find the photographic essay in the New York Times.


A message to our readers:

Since the fall of Afghanistan one year ago, you helped improve the lives of many refugees and asylum seekers in the UK by donating to our Afghan Resettlement Fund. We would now like to extend a helping hand to their families and friends back home. 95% of people in Afghanistan are living on the brink of starvation. Women and girls have been banned from accessing education, jobs, even healthcare. Doctors and nurses are working in overwhelmed hospitals with hardly any medicines or equipment, unpaid. Without a functioning banking system and the currency reaching record lows, many are left without work, unable to afford basic necessities. Help us send a message that the world has not forgotten about Afghanistan. By helping them, you also help refugees here in the UK who fear for the people they had to leave behind. Donate today -even the smallest amount of money you can spare will count towards changing lives of those most in need.


Leave a comment