Hotel rooms

Hotel rooms for refugees ‘not good value for money’, says Afghan evacuee

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A Briton who was evacuated from Kabul just days after his wedding has described feeling ‘literally stuck’ in a London hotel as thousands of refugees and asylum seekers await news of permanent housing from the Department of Interior.

Abdul and Fatima, whose names have been changed, married in early August last year but fled to the UK shortly after Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15.

Abdul, a 26-year-old medical student born in Afghanistan, told the PA news agency: “I think the government spends a lot to provide rooms in hotels, but I don’t think that’s a good report. price quality. money based on the satisfaction it brings to the people who are here.

“If you look at the (hotel’s) website, it costs over £100 per night, which will be maybe £5,000 or £6,000 per month.

British Armed Forces assisted in the evacuation of British nationals and Afghans from Kabul (PA) / PA Media

“If the government had provided us with an apartment for example, that would have been good for the taxpayer too – £500 or £600 (per month).”

Abdul and Fatima have been staying at the Hilton London Metropole in Edgware Road since mid-September, where a queen-size room can cost between £120 and £200 and more per night depending on the date and day of the week a stay is booked for.

Abdul said that although the hotel facilities are “good”, he thinks a lot of government resources are wasted.

“They are wasted due to the lack of an overall plan to provide permanent accommodation for evacuees,” he said.

“Initially, when we moved to this location from the quarantine hotel, we were told it would take no more than 85 days (to find accommodation) but it’s been over 140, 150 days.”

The Home Office informed those living at the hotel that their contract with the Hilton London Metropole will end in March, but offered no alternative living arrangements.

“We didn’t receive property insurance whether we moved to an apartment or another hotel,” Abdul said.

When you live here you feel like you’re stuck in one place…it’s not like home.

“For the people who live here, the situation in Afghanistan was chaotic and people are also suffering from PTSD because of that…being stuck in one place in an uncertain situation has certainly, I think, added to that psychological burden. “

And although the couple are ‘grateful’ to the UK government, Abdul doesn’t think those living in the hotel are happy and maintains he would prefer the ‘freedom’ of an apartment.

“We are grateful for the support given to reassign us at a time when the future was uncertain and we were stuck under brutal Taliban rule – it was a matter of life and death,” he said.

“But people are literally stuck in these rooms, they don’t know how to cook, they just live off takeout… even though you have the freedom to go out and move around, you still don’t feel like you’re contributing to the community.

“When the public hears that people live in hotels, they may think it’s a nice place and (ask): ‘Why are they complaining?’ But actually, when you live here, you feel like you’re stuck in one place… it’s not like home.

Abdul was evacuated from Kabul in August and has been ‘literally stuck’ in a London hotel room for almost five months (PA) / PA wire

There are currently 25,000 asylum seekers and 12,000 Afghan refugees in hotels, a total of 37,000, the Interior Ministry told the Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

During Wednesday’s committee session, MPs were told the government was ‘optimistic’ and would find a new way to work with councils ‘on how we manage these costs’.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the policy was “totally inadequate”, adding: “We don’t want people in hotels”.

She also said the government and local authorities were “absolutely struggling” to move Afghan refugees to more suitable permanent accommodation because the country lacked sufficient infrastructure.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior said: “Using hotels to accommodate those resettled from Afghanistan is a short-term solution and we are working with local authorities to find suitable long-term accommodation for them. .

“We are proud that this country has provided homes for more than 4,000 Afghan evacuees in such a short time.

“Through our enormous intergovernmental efforts and in partnership with local authorities and the private rental sector, we will continue to secure permanent homes for Afghan families so they can settle down and rebuild their lives.

“More than 300 local authorities have pledged to support Afghan families so far, and we continue to urge those who have not yet come forward, and those who can provide more housing, to do so.”