THE UK Government has announced plans that could see Afghan refugees “forced into homelessness”, warn campaigners.

The UK promised a safe haven for thousands of people who fled Afghanistan as the Taliban swept back into power in 2021 – with many living in hotels since arriving.

But that is set to end as Downing Street confirmed plans to end their stays.

Tory veterans minister Johnny Mercer said the £1 million daily cost of housing around 8000 Afghan refugees, half of them children, in hotels is unsustainable.

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“Long-term residency in hotels has prevented some Afghans from properly putting down roots, committing to employment, integrating into communities and [is] creating uncertainty as they look to rebuild their lives in the United Kingdom long term,” he said.

The Government will begin writing to individuals and families housed in the “Afghan bridging hotels” at the end of April, giving them “at least three months’ notice” before they are forced out.

But campaigners have warned that this could lead to Afghans who helped British troops ending up “homeless and destitute on the streets of Britain”.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said he is “deeply concerned” by details of the plan.

He said this is “not how those who were promised a warm welcome in the UK should be treated”.

He added: “Hotels are not the right place for refugees to live but the fact that thousands of Afghans have been left in them for months on end is a consequence of government mismanagement and a failure to work successfully in partnership with local councils and other agencies to find suitable housing.

“To expect councils to suddenly move them out of hotels by putting pressure of Afghan families risks causing great misery and anxiety for those who have already experienced trauma and upheaval.”

The Local Government Association said councils will need extra resources to help find and fund accommodation for Afghans moved out of hotels.

A spokesperson said: “To ensure we do not see a further rise in homelessness as a result of a chronic shortage of properties across the UK and increase current significant pressures on homelessness teams, councils will need sufficient resources and flexibilities to assist with finding and funding accommodation, particularly for larger families.”

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Mercer acknowledged there is a debt owed to Afghans who assisted British forces during the war and upheld British values.

“There are veterans across this country enjoying normal lives today because of the service and sacrifice of this cohort in keeping them safe in Afghanistan,” the former army officer said.

Mercer promised “generous” support to help Afghans into settled accommodation, with trained staff based in hotels to provide advice on finding work, new homes and English lessons.

Some £35 million of new funding has been earmarked to help councils provide increased support to help people move from hotels into accommodation across England, while the local authority housing fund will be expanded by £250 million.

Mercer said: “At a time when there are many pressures on the taxpayer and the housing market, it is not right that people can choose to stay in hotels when other perfectly suitable accommodation is available.”

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said Mercer is “serving eviction notices on 8000 Afghans – half of whom are children – with no guarantee they will be offered a suitable, settled place to live”.

SNP MP Anne McLaughlin has condemned this latest move by the UK Government. She said: “This is not what we promised the people fleeing Afghanistan, people who are extremely vulnerable and living with significant trauma.

“Hotel accommodation was never a good long-term solution, but the UK Government can’t just snap their fingers, throw people on the streets and pass the buck to local authorities.

"The UK Government have had plenty of time to find alternative solutions, and this knee-jerk reaction epitomises the mismanagement of their Afghan refugee resettlement schemes.

“I would like to see solutions that suit the vulnerable Afghan families who are now left looking for their new homes. They need the right support and care, and they must be given a choice in where they are housed, near the communities they choose – integration is vital.

“The refugees facing eviction have already suffered enough upheaval and trauma, it’s not right that the UK Government add to this.”