This will be the fourth time that some of the families have been forced to move home, sometimes leaving jobs and schools, since being airlifted out of Kabul to the UK in August 2021. They were invited to the UK under Operation Pitting because at least one family member worked closely with the British authorities and it was believed that their lives would be at risk if they remained in Afghanistan.
The letters were delivered after the UK government announced in March that it would move all 8,000 Afghans out of temporary bridging accommodation or hotels this year and said they must accept the first offer of accommodation from the Home Office.
The letters said: “For the avoidance of doubt, if possession is not delivered upon by the notice date, you will be a trespasser and the secretary of state for the home department shall be at liberty to evict you from the property.”
The families, including a special forces soldier, a translator and a political adviser, say they have attempted to find homes themselves but have been thwarted by slow bureaucracy within the Home Office and local councils.
Mohamed, one of the Afghan residents, said he had found and then lost two available properties in outer London after problems that the Home Office could not solve.
He said: “There has been problems for all of us – with either the guarantor, the deposit or the eligibility of the local authority, or not having a job. This has all been made worse because we have been moved from London to Yorkshire, leaving jobs and contacts behind.”
A previous letter sent to the families implied that the Home Office would find them a place to live, the residents said.
The letter, sent last Thursday and seen by the Guardian, says: “When you receive a housing offer from us, it is strongly advised that you accept so that you can start your settled life in the UK.”
But on Saturday, Home Office officials said the hotel residents might not be offered any alternative accommodation and may have to find their own accommodation instead.
Asked for a comment, a Home Office spokesperson said:
“Hotels are not, and were never designed to be, suitable long-term accommodation for Afghans resettled in the UK. That is why we have announced a plan, backed by £285m of new funding, to speed up the resettlement of Afghans into long-term homes.
“Where available, the government will continue to make offers of suitable housing, which we strongly encourage Afghan families to accept. Where an offer cannot be made or is rejected, increased government support is available to help Afghans find their own homes and begin rebuilding their lives here.”