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Refugee Council says Home Office plans to evict refugees during the pandemic are ‘senseless and inhumane’

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With just hours to go until the current Home Office pause on evictions expires at the end of June , the Home Office has confirmed its intention to resume evictions, but has not provided a clear timeline, leaving hundreds of refugees fearing they may face imminent homelessness.

Earlier this month, the Housing Secretary extended the eviction ban for social and private tenants until 23rd August, on the basis that evicting tenants during the pandemic puts them at high risk of contracting Covid 19. It is not clear why a different approach has been adopted for refugees.

The Home Office could begin issuing eviction letters as soon as next week, giving refugees just 28 days to find alternative accommodation. This puts hundreds of refugees at risk of homelessness and destitution in the midst of a global pandemic. This is deeply concerning, given that a recent report by Public Health England revealed BAME individuals are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus.

Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said:

“We’re gravely concerned to learn the Home Office is planning to resume evictions of refugees in the middle of a global pandemic. This puts refugees at risk of homelessness, and increased risk of contracting Covid 19. It also increases the risk of transmission of the virus in the community.

The government knows this, which is why the Housing Secretary extended the eviction ban for social and private tenants until the end of August. It is senseless and inhumane to not offer refugees the same protection. We need a one government approach to housing and public health.

It is absolutely unacceptable that the Home Office have not yet told refugees what will happen when the current pause on evictions ends on June 30th. The prolonged silence on this issue has heaped completely avoidable distress and anxiety on a group of people who are already highly vulnerable.

If the Home Office intend to resume evictions in the near future, they must put in place concrete steps to mitigate the risk of homelessness for refugees during the pandemic, and ensure they are not exposed to a higher risk of contracting the virus.”