Following a successful housing scheme – launched last week – to accommodate Ukrainian refugees, the British government is now considering using the hospitality and offers from Britons to resettle other, non-Ukrainian refugees, including thousands of migrants from Afghanistan.
The scheme follows criticism from neighboring nations noting the U.K. had been allowing too few refugees to enter, moreover, government restrictions making the process seek asylum too difficult.
Critics have compared the UK to European countries such as Poland – which has taken in over a million people in recent weeks – despite Poland being a next-door neighbor to Ukraine, and a member of the European Union that Britain left in order to set its own immigration policies.
While the United Kingdom’s “Homes for Ukraine” programme allowed people to voluntarily offer Ukrainians a rent-free space in their residence for at least six months – with each household receiving £350 a month from the government – that generosity is already being abused.
After seeing over 150,000 members of the British public offer to take in a Ukrainian refugee, ministers are now “considering” using the scheme to resettle thousands of Afghans, many of whom have been living in hotels at great cost to the U.K. taxpayer. With the government struggling to persuade local authorities to house Afghans, senior government sources described the idea of expanding the Ukraine-based scheme as a “good idea.”
Just last Tuesday, more than 400 people crossed the English Channel in small boats – the highest daily figure so far this year – with over 2,600 having crossed since the start of 2022. Last year 28,526 people crossed the Channel in small boats from France, over 20,000 more than the year prior.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said 70 percent of migrants entering the UK via France are “not genuine asylum seekers” and that they were mostly made up of “single men” who were effectively economic migrants. She later said the government was working to solve this. Last month, however, Home Office figures showed housing asylum seekers was costing Britain almost £5m ($6.5M) per day.
Britain’s immigration issue has remained a key concern amongst the public since the end of the Second World War, when the nation opened its doors to immigration from the Commonwealth of Nations. Security concerns pervade as a result of effectively open border policies peddled even by “Conservative” governments.
In 2018 it emerged that Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi had been rescued by the Navy from war-torn Libya just three years before his deadly terror attack that killed 22 and injured hundreds at an Ariana Grande concert. Investigations revealed Abedi had spent years on housing estates in Manchester, fraternizing within groups of young men who are said to have radicalized each other. Abedi was also found to have previously been monitored by security forces, but his case had been closed.
During the bungled Afghanistan evacuation of 2021, it was found that individuals on “no-fly” lists were being flown into the United Kingdom, though the government claimed to have looked at the cases, stating that one of the men in question was not a “person of interest” and that he would be free to go.
While migrants from across the world continue pouring into the UK, housing, infrastructure, and cultural solutions remain disputed.