Dozens of Scots properties earmarked for Afghan evacuees lying empty

Dozens of Scottish ­properties earmarked for Afghan evacuees are lying empty because of the UK Government ’s “chaotic” evacuation scheme.

Hundreds of desperate Afghan families have spent months in cramped hotel rooms because of a Home Office failure to match them with designated housing.

It blows a hole in claims by Home Secretary Priti Patel that Scottish ­councils are “not lifting a finger” to help ­refugees, including those who fled Afghanistan following the takeover by the Taliban.

All 32 of Scotland’s councils offered homes to some of the 16,500 Afghans airlifted from Kabul in August.

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel

Nearly 100 families and 400 evacuees from Afghanistan have been housed across 19 local authority areas but up to 50 assigned properties have still not been allocated.

A source said: “Councils have made a huge effort to have properties prepared … but because of the disjointed approach by the UK ­Government, Afghans have been left languishing in hotels since the autumn.

“The organisation of this scheme has been chaotic.”

The UK Government’s resettlement scheme has a four-year time frame for settling up to 20,000 refugees, the majority of whom are still living in peril in Afghanistan.

But Mohammad Asif, director of Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said the UK Government was failing the evacuees already here.

He said he had met families stuck in hotels who are unable to access benefits, register with GPs or settle their children into schools.

He added: “These people have been through hell. For there to be homes sitting empty because of Home Office incompetence is a scandal.”

A key delay has been in the UK Government ­identifying who it airlifted and under what criteria.

Some councils reported accepting families but the Home Office lost which hotel they had been placed in.

SNP MP Stuart McDonald last year questioned the Home Office on why Afghan evacuees were still stuck in hotels, and yesterday called for it to “get its house in order”.

Councillor Kelly Parry of COSLA said: “There have been significant delays in the UK Government’s matching process for moving people from hotels … into settled accommodation.”

About 8300 refugees are eligible under a scheme for those who worked alongside the UK Government and the Army in the Afghan conflict.

The Government said: “We are proud this country has provided homes for more than 4000 Afghan evacuees in such a short space of time, with over 300 local authorities pledging their support so far.”

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