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A year later, thousands of Afghan refugees languish in British hotels

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Emma Batha and Bahaar Joya, Thomson Reuters Foundation

(refiled to correct byline)

Emma Bhasa and Bahar Joya

LONDON, Aug 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Jahan fled to Britain after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, she said that angels had taken her to 'paradise'. I felt like But confined to a tiny hotel room for most of the year, we are on the verge of purgatory. and have not been able to put down roots and rebuild their lives.

"Hotels are great for a week of sightseeing, but not for a year. The Taliban took power last August 15.

"We don't know what will happen to us from one day to the next. We can't look for a job or plan for the future because we don't know if we will suddenly move to another city."

The Taliban occupied Kabul after international forces supporting pro-Western governments withdrew. Since then, other countries have accused hardline Islamist groups of human rights abusers.

Afghans displaced by the UK include not only human rights activists, but also former interpreters and others who worked closely with the British military and government.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke with more than a dozen Afghan refugees, most of whom requested anonymity. was afraid to openly criticize

Jahan, 47, is very grateful that Britain "save his life" and sees a bright future ahead for his three children. , the government said it wasted a lot of money because the hotel was poorly planned.

The government said this year it would cost him £1.2 million ($1.47 million) per day to house Afghans in hotels.

"With this much money, they could have bought a house for us to rent, and even built a house," Jahan said.

"Homes for Afghans"

The home-finding problem is exacerbated by the UK's chronic housing shortage. Property for large Afghan families is particularly scarce.

Jahan said that he also focused on the Ukrainian refugee crisis caused by the Russian invasion in February, and that the government is making efforts to resolve their plight. said to have delayed

"We were completely forgotten," added Jahan. Her room doesn't even have space for a table.

About 100,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK in recent months. Most of them are hosted by British families under a scheme called Holmes for his Four Ukraine.

Refugee Assistance Group established Homes for Afghans his scheme to allow governments, corporations, civic groups, religious groups and military charities to sponsor accommodation for Afghans. requested to do so.

The government declined to comment on the proposal, but aside from liaising with local governments, it will provide housing to property developers and the private rental sector. said it encourages

"We are proud to have provided homes for more than 7,000 Afghan refugees...but we know more needs to be done," said Refugee Minister Richard Harrington. said.


But her Sara de Jong, co-founder of the Sulha Alliance, which helps interpreters in Afghanistan, is part of a family that has moved out of the hotel. put in a very isolated place.

The government's resettlement program is a warm welcome operation.,として知られているが、de Jong calls it a "not very welcoming operation."

She said many interpreters and other Afghans risked their lives to work for Britain.

Some families live in very remote towns in the far north of Scotland, she said.

There is no Muslim community and the nearest halal shop And it takes her seven hours by car to the mosque.

"It's a matter of where you get to, whether your caseworkers have the necessary expertise and networks, and whether they have a commitment to do more than the bare minimum. There is a lottery of numbers," de Jong said.

Some families have moved to homes without furniture or bedding, or damp homes with mold on the walls where children get sick, she added. Other Afghans said they were offered to live hundreds of miles from jobs and job offers.

I was looking for a job in the city but had to turn it down after being assigned to a small coastal town in Wales.

Her Fatemah Habib, who spent five months in a hotel in central England, said her family was offered housing in Scotland, even though her husband was working in London. Told.

Habib, 33, said living in a small room with her two young sons was very stressful, especially when trying to work.

Many Afghans in hotels said there was no place for children to play, the food was terrible, repetitive and unhealthy, especially for diabetics and expectant mothers.

Temporary accommodation can range from four-star hotels in cities such as London to hotels in the countryside just outside the nearest town. Refugees receive financial support and their children attend school.

``Deep Loneliness''

Habib also noted that many women were severely depressed and domestic violence was rampant, making it difficult to seek help. She said she feels she can't.

"Some men would not allow their wives to leave their rooms. Even food was being delivered to their rooms," she added.

A Birmingham hotel resident said her husband would sometimes lock her in her room while she was away for hours. He had her tell her authorities that she did not want to learn English or participate in activities outside her home.

Another woman said her violent husband cut her off from all contact with the outside world.

But victims of domestic violence said they could not dare to ask for help for fear that their husbands would hurt their families in Afghanistan.

Afghans, even English speakers like Habib, said moving to the UK was a huge culture shock.

Refugee experts have asked authorities to house groups of families in the same area. This allows us to support each other when integrated and prevent people from becoming isolated.

Habib, who now lives in an apartment complex in south London, said it was difficult to get to know his neighbors and make new friends.

"I feel deeply alone most of the time," she said, sipping her tea from her decorated glass.

But Ms Habib is determined to integrate into society and is particularly excited about opportunities for women, she said.

Now working with the British Council, the educational and cultural organization that employed her in Afghanistan, Habib eventually wants to run her own business.

"Afghanistan did not allow her to pursue her own dreams and ambitions," she said. "Now you can."