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Afghanistan refugees in Hampshire hoping for homes elsewhere 'to be closer to family'

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AFGHAN refugee families in Hampshire are turning down offers for permanent accommodation with hopes of living closer to relatives elsewhere in the UK.

A report presented to the county council’s health and wellbeing board revealed there are 171 Afghans living in three bridging hotels across the county, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The hotels are stop-gaps while long-term accommodation is found by the Home Office.

British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan being relocated to the UK (picture: UK MOD)
British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan being relocated to the UK (picture: UK MOD)

But Graham Allen, director of adults’ health and care, told councillors that some families have reasons for declining housing offers.

He explained: “We have seen some families decline properties because they have family in other parts of the country, and are waiting for homes around there to become available.

“This is something we’re starting to see right across Hampshire.

“Overall we’ve offered 29 properties to the Home Office, and 20 families have already resettled – they are spread out across our districts.

“A further nine families have been matched to homes, and will move there in the coming weeks. The final four properties are still waiting for a match.”

Suzanne Smith, assistant director of children’s services, added: “There is not a particularly dense concentration of Afghan families anywhere in Hampshire – but neither would we have much of a say in that.”

Some families have already been settled elsewhere in the UK, Mr Allen confirmed.

Work is being carried out to integrate Afghan families in British society, with support for language and drivers’ licences and job interviews.School places are also being offered to children but concerns have been raised about the length of time families are having to stay in temporary accommodation.

Mr Allen said: “The Home Office has sent a letter to all evacuees to say they will be contacted about their immigration status by February.

“Some of the issues we’re seeing relate to the amount of time families are spending in these bridging hotels, because we’re still seeing more families arriving.”

The government has confirmed to the county council that funding will be provided over a three-year period.

Exact amounts are yet to be determined, but Mr Allen told councillors he had been hopeful for five years of funding – the same as the government provided for Syrian refugees.

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