Thousands of Afghan refugees still stranded one year after ousting of US-backed govt
Tens of thousands of Afghans are still awaiting to be granted access to the US, while in the UK the Home Office is pushing refugees to find their own rental homes
By News Desk - August 15 2022

(Photo credit: AFP)

One year after Taliban forces stood victorious against the US-trained army in Afghanistan, thousands of refugees remain stranded across temporary accommodations and refugee camps.

In the UK, only 7,000 Afghan refugees have been rehoused in a year, out of the 20,000 that arrived in the country.

Moreover, on 15 August, the UK Home Office informed the refugees that they need to look for new accommodations, as London claims to be spending 1.2 million pounds a day on hotels.

There is also great concern that the refugees will not be able to find suitable homes, as many lack the language skills to negotiate their own rental contracts, as well as the necessary paperwork, such as passports and bank statements.

To confront this, the Home Office will offer refugees two “good, decent proposals” for housing. If families reject the offers, a further two months of hotel accommodation will reportedly be provided.

It remains unclear what will happen if the families fail to secure accommodation after these extra two months.

“We don’t know from one day to the next what will happen to us. We can’t look for jobs or plan for the future because we don’t know if we’ll suddenly be moved to another town,” an Afghan refugee in the UK told Reuters earlier this month.

More than 120,000 refugees were airlifted and scattered around the world since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last August. Out of these, 76,000 have reached the US.

However, since the start of the war in Ukraine, the resettlement of Afghan refugees has slowed down to a crawl: out of 48,900 requests for a special entry visa by Afghan refugees, only 369 had been approved as of 28 July.

Meanwhile, more than 74,000 Afghan collaborators and their families are still in the pipeline for special immigrant visas.

This is in stark contrast with the expedience with which Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed to the US, as more than 100,000 have already arrived to the country since Russia launched its invasion in February, 27,500 of them under a fast-track parole program established by the Biden White House.

Thousands of Afghans are also still stranded in refugee camps in the UAE, where they suffer from prison-like conditions as they await the go-ahead to enter the US.

Housed at the so-called Emirates Humanitarian City, an apartment complex in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi converted into a makeshift “refugee housing facility,” roughly 6,500 Afghans were told back in March by a US official that they would need to wait “until August” to be resettled.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Republican lawmakers are set to release a damning report on Monday, detailing how the White House severely fumbled the final months of the war in Afghanistan.

The report is said to provide a “detailed accounting” of Biden’s Afghanistan policy, including how his government “rejected the advice of senior military commanders, failed to heed multiple warnings about the consequences of its decisions, and created a crisis that left America’s reputation damaged.”

Last month, White House officials began discussions on how to handle the anniversary of last year’s botched withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, with an aim to make sure no one does anything “stupid.”

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