Doors open and closed to Afghan refugees: Hotels in Kent and Huddersfield set to take in families

Hotels across Britain have flung open their doors for arriving Afghans as they flee the clutches of the Taliban back home.

Rooms in Kent and Huddersfield are being readied for the refugees as they fly into airports including Birmingham and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Industry giants such as Best Western are working with the Home Office on providing the temporary accommodation.

Councils including Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds also said they will house Afghans – but have not said in which hotels.

But the leader of Torbay Council Steve Darling refused to take any, citing the housing crisis in the small seaside resort.

It comes as MailOnline was told today ex-pats and western visa holders cannot get ‘anywhere near’ Kabul airport because ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ are blocking the way.

This was despite UK ministers insisting Taliban guards are letting people through checkpoints and planes are not taking off empty.

Videos captured the chaos as gunmen fired shots over the heads of panicked crowds while hitting people with rifles – as those on the ground said fighters were dishing out beatings and lashings seemingly at random.

A charter flight arriving at a Midlands airport from Kabul yesterday. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan

A charter flight arriving at a Midlands airport from Kabul yesterday. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan

A charter flight arriving at a Midlands airport from Kabul yesterday. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan

A civilian charter flight arriving at a Midlands airport from Kabul yesterday. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan

A civilian charter flight arriving at a Midlands airport from Kabul yesterday. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan

A civilian charter flight arriving at a Midlands airport from Kabul yesterday. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan

As the crisis continues in Kabul, Best Western opened its doors to Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury for more than 100 Afghan refugees, KentOnline reports.

The Gothic building, which is made up of 53 rooms and has picturesque gardens close to the city centre, only reopened in May after being shut due to lockdown.

Manager Mark Cotman refused to be drawn on the arrangements of when they will arrive and how long they will stay.

Meanwhile two hotels in Huddersfield said they would take in the refugees when they get here. Cedar Court Hotel and the Old Golf Hotel are reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans.

Managing Director Wayne Topley of Cedar Court Hotels said the site would help those who assisted the British Army in operations over the last decade.

He told Examiner Live: ‘We have offered our services to the Home Office and we would love to help those who have helped our forces. Anything we can do to facilitate their transport will be done.’

Cedar Court Hotel in Huddersfield is reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans

Cedar Court Hotel in Huddersfield is reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans

Cedar Court Hotel in Huddersfield is reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans

One of the rooms at the Cedar Court Hotel in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield

One of the rooms at the Cedar Court Hotel in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield

One of the rooms at the Cedar Court Hotel in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield 

Best Western opened the doors to Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury for more than 100 Afghan refugees,

Best Western opened the doors to Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury for more than 100 Afghan refugees,

Best Western opened the doors to Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury for more than 100 Afghan refugees,

‘Nobody can get to Kabul airport’: Increasingly frantic Western expats say they can’t reach their evacuation flights because huge crowd of terrified Afghans is blocking their access 

Ex-pats and western visa holders cannot get ‘anywhere near’ Kabul airport today because ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ are blocking the way, MailOnline has been told, despite UK ministers insisting Taliban guards are letting people through checkpoints and planes are not taking off empty.

Videos captured snapshots of the chaos as gunmen fired shots over the heads of panicked crowds while hitting people with rifles – as those on the ground said Taliban fighters were dishing out beatings and lashings seemingly at random, with people being trampled and crushed in the throng.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, a former Marine who now lives in Kabul with his wife, described the scene as a ‘clusterf***’, telling MailOnline: ‘Two ex-pats – one British and one Norwegian – have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through.

‘And last night a UN convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for NGOs, had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street.’

Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country.

An Afghan-Australian trying to leave the country also told ABC it is ‘not possible’ to get to the airport because there is ‘lots of firing’ and ‘too many people’ while Max Sangeen, a Canadian interpreter, said his wife and children – including a 20-day-old baby – are trapped in Kabul despite having the correct documents.

But it is not clear what western troops can do to help. There are around 6,000 American and 900 British soldiers at the airport – alongside smaller numbers of Turks and Australians – but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall. Beyond that, the Taliban is in charge.

The huge US contingent keeping the airport secured piles pressure on Britain to get its citizens out quickly, with the smaller UK force unlikely to be able the hold the site if the Americans leave.

Those on the ground say the Islamists have little or no idea what they are doing or who to let through, as the UN warned fighters are hunting through the crowd for those who collaborated with British or American forces so they can be ‘punished’ – despite public reassurances that there will be no reprisal attacks.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said today Taliban guards are allowing people with travel documents through checkpoints and British flights are not leaving the country empty – insisting that ‘not a single seat is wasted’.

He revealed 120 people were evacuated this morning, with 138 due to follow later. There were eight RAF transport planes – made up of A400 Atlas, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemasters – scheduled to leave Kabul today.

But with military transports able to carry up to 150, it means there will have been empty seats on the flights despite Mr Wallace’s claims.

The passengers were made up of British citizens, media and human rights staff and Afghans who had worked for the British.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed there were six British flights out of Kabul yesterday – despite Mr Wallace saying there were seven to 10 daily – meaning a maximum of 900 passengers were on board and free from the Taliban.

 

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Cedar Court Hotel is believed to be able to hold about 70 families if given the go ahead by the local council.

The Old Golf Hotel, which spiralled into administration last year, is also being touted as a potential location for 50 men. 

More than 100 local councils pledged their support in rehoming Afghans as the first RAF rescue mission for those fleeing Kabul landed.

Local authorities across the country committed to taking in displaced Afghans as Boris Johnson launched plans to resettle up to 25,000 refugees over five years. 

Rescue flights have already begun arriving at RAF Brize Norton, with 370 people evacuated between Sunday and Monday, with some taken by military jets to Middle East cities before catching commercial airliners to the UK. 

At least 12 military flights took off from Kabul on Tuesday, including three UK planes as the Ministry of Defence aims to ferry up to 7,000 Britons and Afghan allies out. 

Most are heading to other stable parts of the Middle East, where the passengers catch charter flights back to Britain.

At least 240 refugees have arrived in England since the fall of Kabul, with passengers disembarking an RAF Voyager A330 aircraft at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. 

Yesterday British forces were scrambling to evacuate another 1,000 UK nationals and Afghan refugees from Kabul.

Armed Forces chief General Sir Nick Carter said yesterday the next 24 hours were ‘critical’ with fears of mayhem if crowds of desperate people attempt to rush the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport. 

Families fleeing Afghanistan have been rehomed in West Yorkshire, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Surrey and Melton in Leicestershire.

But more than 100 local councils also pledged to provide accommodation if it is needed.

Council leaders and mayors in Liverpool, London, Kent and Essex all shared statements promising to provide support in their communities. 

Local authorities were asked to support efforts to relocate approximately 3,000 displaced Afghans in the coming weeks.  

Downing Street received more than 2,000 accommodation promises from 104 councils, the Times reported.

Afghans allowed to come to the UK will be distributed across the country, the Government indicated.

A spokesman said it would work with the devolved administrations and local councils to make sure Afghans get help to rebuild their lives.

Birmingham City Council has been in talks with the Home Office since June, with plans to rehome 80 Afghan refugees in private rented housing.

The local authority will receive more than £1million in funding to provide a year’s worth of support to those who are rehomed.

This includes assistance finding accommodation, school places, medical support, National Insurance credentials  and other benefits.

Migration Yorkshire said more than 200 people will be arriving in the county through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance policy. 

Cllr Gerry Anderson, leader of Ashford Borough Council in Kent, has already spoken with the Home Office to take in families under the proposed resettlement scheme.

It is understood approximately 10 families a year will be rehomed in the town.

He told Kent Online: ‘These people are going to be useful contributors to the country. They’re going to get jobs and they’re mainly English speaking.

‘People may condemn it and gripe about it but frankly I don’t give a damn about that because I think the vast majority of people who are intelligent, reasonable and sensible will realise that what we’re doing is really the right thing to do.’

Similar commitments have been made by Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson, Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and council leaders in Newcastle, Essex and Wiltshire.

A Northumberland County Council spokesman confirmed plans to accommodate three families in the local area.

He said: ‘Northumberland has a long history of supporting those in need from other countries and prior to the current situation in Afghanistan we agreed to the Government’s request to support their Afghan Local Employed Staff (LES) resettlement proposals.

‘We are initially looking to support three families in the near future, with a further three families to follow later in the year.

‘We will also review options to either accelerate or increase our support as necessary.’

A collective of Labour-run council leaders in 22 London boroughs, from Barking to Waltham Forest, released a joint statement on the Afghan refugee relocation effort.

They said: ‘We urgently call on the Government to implement a national refugee resettlement scheme programme with target numbers from Afghanistan with proper support and funding to aid delivery, so that local authorities can plan effectively and provide sanctuary.

At least 240 refugees have already arrived in England per reports, with West Yorkshire housing the vast majority with 174 as local authorities across the country pledged their support

The Old Golf Hotel in Huddersfield is also reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans

The Old Golf Hotel in Huddersfield is also reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans

The Old Golf Hotel in Huddersfield is also reportedly being set up as temporary accommodation for Afghans

Dominic Raab was ‘too busy’ on holiday to help brave translators: As Kabul airport descends into hellish anarchy, Foreign Secretary ‘delegated’ crucial call to Afghan opposite number 

Dominic Raab failed to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan, the Mail can reveal

Dominic Raab failed to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan, the Mail can reveal

Dominic Raab failed to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan, the Mail can reveal

Dominic Raab failed to make a crucial phone call while he was on holiday to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan, the Mail can reveal.

Senior officials in the Foreign Secretary’s department advised last Friday that he should make immediate contact with Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar as the Taliban advanced on Kabul.

The officials said Mr Raab, who was on a luxury break with his family in Crete, needed to urgently request assistance in rescuing interpreters who had worked for the British military. They said it was important the call was made by him rather than a junior minister.

But Mr Raab did not make the call. Officials were told he was unavailable and that Lord Goldsmith, the Foreign Office minister on duty, should speak to Mr Atmar instead.

The Foreign Office said last night: ‘The Foreign Secretary was engaged on a range of other calls and this one was delegated to another minister.’ 

However, the Afghan foreign ministry refused to set up an immediate call between Mr Atmar and a junior minister who was not his direct counterpart. As a result, they did not speak until at least the next day, with crucial time lost before the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday.

The revelation is likely to reignite the controversy over Mr Raab’s handling of the crisis. In a fiery Commons debate yesterday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer aimed a barb at the Foreign Secretary, saying: ‘I wouldn’t stay on holiday while Kabul was falling.’

It came as the situation in Kabul appeared to dramatically worsen, with chaotic scenes in and around the airport that is now the only route out of the country.

Many Afghan translators who worked with UK troops are trapped in the capital and unable to reach the airfield as they fear being uncovered at Taliban checkpoints. With crowds besieging the airport’s perimeter, and the Taliban in control of the city, it is unclear how long order will last.

 

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‘We will work closely with London’s Afghan community and with our voluntary sector and national government to ensure refugees get the support they need to recover from the trauma they have lived through and start to rebuild their lives.’

But one council was quick out the blocks to say Afghan refugees would not be welcome there.

Steve Darling, the Lib Dem leader of Torbay Council in south Devon, said the authority was already struggling to cope with the capacity it had.

He said: ‘We’re having real massive challenges to support our own people let alone Afghan refugees. I don’t think people realise how much of a perfect storm we’ve got in Torbay. We’re in a crisis situation with our own people.’

Local Tory MP Kevin Foster blasted him and told him to ‘get a grip’ after the comments. He said: ‘No one’s expecting an area like Torbay to make the commitment of a large city but to set the level at zero is very disappointing.

‘There are people who shared the dangers with our forces and supported our mission who now face extreme danger if they remain in Afghanistan and we all need to make a contribution towards this.

The UK is launching a diplomatic push to encourage allies to join it in offering to take in Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban regime.

The Government said Britain will take up to 20,000 people wanting to exit Afghanistan as part of its resettlement scheme, with 5,000 in the next 12 months.

No 10 said the Government will be encouraging international partners to emulate ‘one of the most generous asylum schemes in British history’ – but Labour said the offer was not bold enough.

Dominic Raab is due to speak with fellow G7 ministers today to discuss international co-operation before leaders of the group – which, as well as the UK, includes the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy – hold a virtual meeting next week.

He also held talks yesterday evening with his counterparts in India and the US – the second time he has spoken to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week.

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, said Foreign Office personnel were hoping to get ‘at least’ 1,000 people out of the country every day – but warned there were ‘days, not weeks’ left to complete the mission.

MailOnline was told ex-pats and western visa holders cannot get ‘anywhere near’ Kabul airport today because ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ are blocking the way, despite UK ministers insisting Taliban guards are letting people through checkpoints and planes are not taking off empty.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, a former Marine who now lives in Kabul with his wife, described the scene as a ‘clusterf***’, telling MailOnline: ‘Two ex-pats – one British and one Norwegian – have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through.

‘And last night a UN convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for NGOs, had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street.’

Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country.

An Afghan-Australian trying to leave the country also told ABC it is ‘not possible’ to get to the airport because there is ‘lots of firing’ and ‘too many people’ while Max Sangeen, a Canadian interpreter, said his wife and children – including a 20-day-old baby – are trapped in Kabul despite having the correct documents.

There are around 6,000 American and 900 British soldiers at the airport – alongside smaller numbers of Turks and Australians – but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall. Beyond that, the Taliban is in charge.

Babies were thrown over barbed wire towards troops at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get them out of the country as the west's ignominious exit from Afghanistan continued

Babies were thrown over barbed wire towards troops at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get them out of the country as the west's ignominious exit from Afghanistan continued

Babies were thrown over barbed wire towards troops at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get them out of the country as the west’s ignominious exit from Afghanistan continued

Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of 'huge crowds' of 'terrified locals'

Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of 'huge crowds' of 'terrified locals'

Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of 'huge crowds' of 'terrified locals'

Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of 'huge crowds' of 'terrified locals'

Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ 

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Taliban fighters have now encircled the airport in Kabul and are deciding who gets to come in and who has to stay out. Checkpoints have been set up on both the civilian south side of the airport and the military north side, with gunshots fired in both locations to keep crowds back

Afghan refugee, five, whose father worked for British Embassy in Kabul falls 70ft to his death from hotel window in Sheffield 

A five-year-old Afghan refugee whose father worked for the British Embassy in Kabul has fallen 70 feet to his death from a hotel window in Sheffield.

Mohammed Monib Majeedi was peering down from his ninth floor bedroom in the OYO Metropolitan Hotel, in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, when he fell and plunged to his death at 2.30pm yesterday.

The boy had been staying at the hotel with his mother Shekiba, father Omar Majeedi, two brothers and two sisters since arriving in the UK after fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan a few weeks ago.

His mother witnessed the horror fall and shouted ‘save my son please’.

The window, which should only open about 5cm, appears to have been faulty and opened wide enough for Mohammed to fall through.

Health and Safety Inspectors could be seen opening a number of the hotel windows following Wednesday afternoon’s tragedy revealing that more than one window left a 1ft 6in gap.

The OYO hotel is temporary home to around 11 Afghan families, who had helped the British Army and Government.

Mohammed had to come Britain only a few weeks ago with his mother and father – a senior humanitarian worker who had worked for the British Embassy in Kabul.

 

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The huge US contingent keeping the airport secured piles pressure on Britain to get its citizens out quickly, with the smaller UK force unlikely to be able the hold the site if the Americans leave.

Those on the ground say the Islamists have little or no idea what they are doing or who to let through, as the UN warned fighters are hunting through the crowd for those who collaborated with British or American forces so they can be ‘punished’ – despite public reassurances that there will be no reprisal attacks.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said today Taliban guards are allowing people with travel documents through checkpoints and British flights are not leaving the country empty – insisting that ‘not a single seat is wasted’.

He revealed 120 people were evacuated this morning, with 138 due to follow later. There were eight RAF transport planes – made up of A400 Atlas, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemasters – scheduled to leave Kabul today.

But with military transports able to carry up to 150, it means there will have been empty seats on the flights despite Mr Wallace’s claims.

The passengers were made up of British citizens, media and human rights staff and Afghans who had worked for the British.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed there were six British flights out of Kabul yesterday – despite Mr Wallace saying there were seven to 10 daily – meaning a maximum of 900 passengers were on board and free from the Taliban.

Today it was revealed Taliban militants are intensifying their hunt for people who worked with UK, US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, according to a confidential report to the UN.

Jihadists are going door-to-door to threaten relatives of civil servants, interpreters and other consular staff, while other militants are even stopping people outside Kabul airport.

Despite the Taliban’s claims of an ‘amnesty’, terrifying video today showed fighters spraying assault rifle bullets just yards away from women and children gathered at the airport’s perimeter.

The UN dossier leaked to The New York Times says the Taliban are ‘arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.’

It was filed to the UN by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group which provides intelligence on global conflicts.

Afghan football player, 19, who died trying to cling to landing gear of US evacuation flight 

A former Afghan national youth team footballer died when he became trapped in the landing gear of a US evacuation flight in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban, it emerged today.

The remains of Zaki Anwari, 19, were discovered in the wheel well of a US C-17 transport aircraft when it arrived in Qatar on Monday.   

The athlete is believed to be among several people who died after clinging to the jet as it took off from Kabul airport, with harrowing video showing bodies tumbling to the ground as the plane climbed into the sky. 

Mr Anwari’s death was confirmed today by the General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports of Afghanistan, according to Ariana News.

The promising footballer had rushed to the airport hours after Kabul fell to the Taliban, pouring onto the runway in utter desperation and running after the USAF jet.

In his last Facebook post, the talented young player said: ‘You’re the painter of your life. Don’t give the paint brush to anyone else!’ 

He lived in Kabul and had attended the Franco-Afghan Esteghlal High School, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the country. 

 

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