The Authorities’s resolution to maneuver evacuated Afghan households a whole lot of miles throughout England to new short-term lodging triggered “appreciable disruption” to the training of youngsters going through exams, the Excessive Court docket has been instructed.
Three refugee households are bringing a authorized problem towards the House Secretary, alleging she did not fulfil a dedication to assist them rebuild their lives within the UK after the Taliban seized energy in Afghanistan in the summertime of 2021.
They declare a proposal to switch them from a London resort – in an space the place youngsters had been learning and others had jobs – to additional short-term lodging in northern England was “illegal”, the court docket was instructed.
Legal professionals for the households say a number of youngsters nonetheless do not need college locations months after the transfer, whereas one lady is vulnerable to shedding her job within the capital.
They accuse the House Secretary, a task at present occupied by Suella Braverman, of failing to bear in mind the private circumstances of the Afghan nationals when contemplating the place they might be housed.
The House Secretary’s attorneys dispute the linked claims, saying particular person conditions had been checked out however the Cupboard minister was not beneath an “enforceable obligation” to supply lodging to the households.
Martin Westgate KC, for the households, instructed a Excessive Court docket listening to in London on Tuesday they had been delivered to the UK through resettlement schemes and settled in London over the course of a 12 months.
They skilled “upheaval” after they had been supplied the transfer up north final September after their resort ended its contract with the Authorities, the court docket was instructed.
Mr Westgate mentioned the households had a “vulnerability to a succession of short-term strikes”, with the switch coming when some youngsters had been at a “important stage” of their training.
The barrister mentioned the households’ state of affairs “applies to many others who’re in bridging lodging” and whereas he didn’t have present figures, final August some 9,667 folks beneath the resettlement schemes had been nonetheless dwelling in motels.
In written arguments, Mr Westgate mentioned the UK Authorities’s Operation Heat Welcome aimed to “guarantee Afghans arriving within the UK obtain the very important help they should rebuild their lives, discover work, pursue training and combine into their native communities”.
This concerned arranging short-term “bridging lodging” in motels till households might safe everlasting housing – possible within the private-rented sector – with the help of public funding, Mr Westgate mentioned.
Whereas in London, he mentioned, the households, among the many 15,000 Afghans evacuated to the UK in the course of the British navy’s Operation Pitting, had “established themselves within the space” and youngsters had been making “good progress” in colleges and had made associates.
Mr Westgate mentioned: “The households have been constrained to surrender jobs, college locations, help networks and different necessary ties solely to be moved to additional short-term lodging, which can itself be delivered to an finish at any time. Kids had been taken out of college with no different placement organized for them.
“While they continue to be in short-term lodging, they’re weak to additional strikes – doubtlessly to an indefinite string of short-term placements – so making it inconceivable for them to settle or to progress with their training and social growth at any location.”
He mentioned there isn’t a proof the House Secretary “balanced the youngsters’s finest pursuits”, no indication there was an inquiry into the provision of latest college locations and no consideration that a number of youngsters confronted exams this 12 months.
He mentioned whereas the households had not been compelled to stay anyplace, the “sensible actuality” is they’d no choice however to maneuver.
Cathryn McGahey KC, representing the Authorities, mentioned in written arguments that the bid to have the lodging affords quashed and the households rehoused in or close to the place they beforehand lived was “misconceived”.
She mentioned the pursuits of school-aged youngsters had “always been central” to decision-making and particular person circumstances had been thought of.
Ms McGahey mentioned the provision of native training was taken under consideration when commissioning bridging lodging.
She mentioned a call final summer season to finish the short-term housing of evacuated Afghans in London motels was made as a result of value and native “migration pressures” exacerbated by migrants arriving to the UK through small boats throughout the Channel.
The barrister mentioned that in consequence it was “inevitable” the households can be supplied lodging exterior the capital, with the priority it was “unrealistic” for Afghans to seek out everlasting rented houses there.
She mentioned offering short-term lodging was an “operational measure” and the House Secretary was “not beneath any enforceable obligation to supply lodging to the (households)”.
“There was no revealed coverage by which the Secretary of State presupposed to commit herself to offering bridging lodging to those people,” she added.
Ms McGahey instructed the court docket the House Secretary’s choices had been “all totally throughout the lawful train of her discretion”.
A declare introduced by a fourth household has been withdrawn after non-public rented lodging was discovered, the court docket was instructed.
The listening to earlier than Mr Justice Henshaw concluded on Tuesday, with a judgment due at a later date.