LONDON: The UK Home Office relocated two Afghan refugee girls from London weeks before their school-leaving exams, it was revealed on Saturday. The girls had arrived in Britain after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021.


The Observer reported that two Fulham Cross Girls School students, both aged 16, have been told that they and their families must leave the city immediately. The girls had been preparing to take the GCSE examinations, which begin in the UK on May 15.

Their principal, Victoria Tully, expressed her “heartbreak” to the newspaper, saying that the two students, along with the 13 other Afghan girls who had enrolled at the school before its evacuation, would not be able to transfer to another institution that would accept them and use the same textbooks and standardized testing.

According to the Observer, the two girls and their families have been staying at a hotel as “bridging accommodation,” but they have been informed that they must leave by the end of March.

Tully told the newspaper, “I am heartbroken, these children have overcome unbelievable adversity, and despite living in a horrible hotel their work ethic has been through the roof, to take their GCSEs away seems barbaric.

Despite arriving without a common language, “the girls have blossomed due to their sunny personalities and incredible hard work,” she said.

Last week, Zara, one of the girls, came to me in tears and begged me not to let them move them.

Zara, who aspires to become an engineer, was reportedly scheduled to take English, mathematics, and science exams, but she is now being relocated to Northamptonshire, more than 60 miles away.

Holder of a British passport Adib Kochai, Zara’s father, told the Observer: “I told local council officials I would rather sleep on the streets than go to Northampton, my wife is disabled and very ill and waiting for an operation in London, my daughter is going to take her exams. I pleaded, “Don’t leave us!”

Kochai and his disabled wife live with their daughter Zara and their three sons and granddaughter in a hotel, where conditions are “very bad,” he said.

Their lawyers have called the decision to relocate them and other “vulnerable” families to London from Afghanistan as part of the evacuation program in 2021 “disgraceful” and “without consideration given to individual needs.”

The Home Office has said that all local authorities where Afghan refugees are relocated have a “legal obligation” to ensure that each child receives a school placement within their designated catchment area within three weeks.

The country is “proud” to have housed more than 7,500 Afghan evacuees, but “local authority housing for all in London is scarce and hotels do not provide a long-term solution,” according to a spokesperson.