Navigating the hostile environment - Afghan evacuees in London

14 Nov 2023
'Navigating the hostile environment - Afghan evacuees in London' 
Speaker: Professor Louise Ryan, London Metropolitan University 

Following the dramatic evacuation from Kabul airport in August 2021, the British government proclaimed its commitment to a ‘warm welcome’ for Afghans. This paper draws on original qualitative research to explore the emerging experiences of evacuees, and other recent arrivals, during their first year in London. Using the narratives of our Afghans participants, as well as insights from key stakeholders, we show how they navigated slow, opaque bureaucratic processes and lack of communication with official agencies. As a result of these lengthy processes, many thousands of evacuees remained in temporary hotel accommodation for 2 years. The paper argues that the ad hoc response of the Home Office and the Foreign Office has created ‘false distinctions’ between categories of Afghan refugees, reinforcing notions of ‘deserving’ versus ‘underserving’ migrants. This distinction allows the British government to present itself as humanitarian, ‘rescuing’ people from Afghanistan, while simultaneously maintaining its commitment to the ‘hostile immigration environment’.

Seminar co-hosted by the Department of Sociology & Criminology and the ISS21 Migration and Integration Research Cluster, UCC

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

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