ICMD, Oct 10, 2021:

Afghans who recently arrived in the UK after fleeing the Taliban takeover have asked to be sent back, casting doubt over the success of Operation Warm Welcome, the government’s Afghan resettlement programme.

It was launched by Boris Johnson on 29 August to help Afghan refugees arriving in the UK by providing support so they could “rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and integrate into their local communities”.

However, a widespread lack of housing means hotels have been commandeered as emergency temporary accommodation for 7,000 Afghan refugees, with Home Office officials admitting that some will be held in them for months.

Already some refugees have had enough. One doctor, who has been working with the newly arrived Afghans for weeks but who requested anonymity, said: “I’ve had a few patients telling me they want to go home. One guy, who was 67, kept saying: ‘I can’t take this any more. I have to get out of this [hotel] room.’ ” The GP, an Afghan who fled the country in 2000 when the Taliban were previously in power, added: “Another said: ‘I just want my freedom from the hotel.’ I had to put him on medication, and his wife, because they were so upset.”

There are also concerns over healthcare for those held in hotels following the evacuation from Kabul airport, with one charity describing confusion over access to local GPs.

One council leader described the government’s programme as a “shocking failure”. Councillor Danny Thorpe of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, south-east London, said the lack of organised government support when 700 Afghans arrived in the borough in August was “unforgivable”. “This was one of the most shocking failures of government that I ever encountered,” he said. The Gaurdian