Dave Smith
Roundup of Refugee News (Afghanistan Focus) 5.9.21

Weekly News Review (w.b. 30.8.21)


Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK)

Guardian: Shoeless, shivering, passing out: Afghan refugees arrive in the UK

They arrived shoeless and shivering, with some toddlers wearing the same nappies they wore when fleeing their homes days earlier. Volunteers have described the extraordinary dignity and stoicism of the Afghan refugees, including about 2,200 children, who were airlifted to the UK out of the clutches of the Taliban.

Some of the new arrivals were passing out from exhaustion in airport terminals, said Dara Leonard, a team leader for the British Red Cross. Others, including pregnant women and “the sick and incredibly frail” were rushed straight to hospital.

Guardian: Afghanistan: what can refugees do now that UK evacuation is over?

While the UK’s formal evacuation of its own nationals and Afghans seen as eligible to be taken out has ended, there is confusion over how many more people could have been taken – and what their options are now. 

i Newspaper: Afghan refugees seeking asylum face a brutal reality in the UK, despite ‘Operation Warm Welcome’

All eyes are on Afghanistan now. We’re in one of those rare moments when the public are sympathetic towards refugees, so the government is acting nice. Junior Home Office minister Victoria Atkins is being put in charge of “Operation Warm Welcome“, which will seek to ensure Afghans arriving in the UK receive housing, healthcare and education.

But behind that warm welcome is a brutal reality. The UK asylum system subjects refugees to an administrative nightmare of enforced poverty, bureaucracy and isolation. And this will apply to Afghans as much as everyone else.

Observer: Doctors warn against long hotel stays for Afghan refugees arriving in Britain

The government last night unveiled “operation warm welcome” for the thousands of arriving Afghans, but campaigners immediately expressed concerns about the accommodation many will be offered. 

As a new position – a minister for Afghan resettlement – was announced, doctors also warned that healthcare provision would have to be improved if, as expected, many of the arrivals are housed in hotels for at least the first few months.

Guardian: UK councils say they are ‘ready to assist’ Afghan refugees but lack housing

Councils across the UK have said they are happy to provide accommodation for people fleeing Afghanistan but say they do not have sufficient housing stock to welcome all the new arrivals.

Steve Cowan, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council in west London, which has accepted many refugees in resettlement schemes over the years, said councils that volunteered to support the new arrivals should not be expected to do so to the detriment of residents on council home waiting lists. Instead the government should offer a comprehensive scheme that works across various departments to meet all their housing and other needs. 

Politics Home: Home Office Is Planning To Build Asylum Accommodation Centres For 8,000 People

The Home Office has been accused of "warehousing people" after initiating plans to construct new purpose-built accommodation sites across the UK, capable of housing up to 8,000 asylum seekers. 

In line with home secretary Priti Patel’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’, the department is actively seeking contractors to design, build or renovate large-scale reception centres that can accommodate and support asylum seekers for up to six months while their claims are processed. 

The “national portfolio” of centres has been described by one refugee charity as having the potential to be “hugely harmful to vulnerable and often traumatised people”. 

Guardian: Controversial Napier barracks in line to house asylum seekers until 2025

The Home Office is planning to use a controversial military barracks in Kent to house asylum seekers for four years longer than originally planned, it has been confirmed.

Officials began using the dilapidated Napier barracks near Folkestone in September last year after the site was loaned to the Home Office from the Ministry of Defence. At times more than 400 asylum seekers have been accommodated in dormitories of 14.

Public Health England warned the Home Office that the communal living arrangements could pose a risk of Covid.

Asylum / refugees / immigration (international)

EU Observer: EU prepares to keep out Afghan refugees

EU countries are preparing to stop Afghan refugees from potentially entering en masse, amid fears of a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis, when 1 million people came to Europe.

"The EU and its member states stand determined to act jointly to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled, large-scale, illegal migration movements faced in the past," EU home-affairs ministers will agree to say after an emergency meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (31 August), according to a draft statement, dated 28 August, and seen by EUobserver.

Some of the measures will try to "protect the EU external borders and prevent unauthorised entries", including by deploying border-control officers from the EU's Frontex agency.

Arab News: Unable to bear economic pressures in Lebanon, Syrian refugees head back home

The economic crisis in Lebanon is prompting a remarkable number of Syrian workers residing in the country to return to Syria. 

The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has decreased to 851,717, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees’ latest census, though the Lebanese government stopped allowing the UNHCR to register Syrians as refugees in 2015.


Relevant world news 

Washington Post: 10 civilians killed by U.S. drone strike in Kabul, family says

Even as the final U.S. military flights soared out from Kabul’s airport on Monday, friends and relatives in a nearby neighborhood buckled in anguish over the deaths of 10 extended family members in a U.S. drone strike the day before.

The strike was meant to thwart a purported planned attack by the Islamic State. Questions remain about whether the U.S. accomplished its intended mission, but this much is known: 10 civilians in this northwestern Kabul neighborhood — eight of them children 18 and under — were killed in the attack, family members told The Washington Post on Monday, adding to the 48,000 civilian casualties already suffered during the past 20 years of war.