‘Very difficult and frustrating’: Afghan refugee still living in hotel 11 months after Kabul takeover

As recently as May it was reported that over 10,000 Afghan refugees were still living in hotels across the UK.

An Afghan refugee, who fled Kabul during the Taliban takeover last August, says he is still living in temporary accommodation in a hotel in Camden.

Mansoor Salihi, 30, who worked as a human resource manager and part time university lecturer in Kabul, came to London shortly after his city was invaded.

Mansoor Salihi, 30, who worked as a human resource manager and part time university lecturer in Kabul, came to London shortly after his city was invaded.

Almost a year later, Mansoor has found full time work as an employment caseworker in Hackney but has yet to be given permanent housing.

As recently as May it was reported that 10,000 Afghan refugees were still living in hotels across the country, with a fifth based in London.

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“It’s very difficult to start a new life in a new country, when you have to leave everything behind, your house, your family, your job,” Mansoor told LondonWorld.

“Even my personal bank accounts are locked in Kabul.

“Coming to the UK is a new experience for me, starting a new life here.

“Of course there are some problems and barriers, I am still facing those barriers in London.

“I’ve found a job, I’ve also applied for my second masters degree here.

“But the housing process is very difficult here.”

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The London Mayor’s Welcome Message to the Afghan Refugees is displayed at Piccadilly Circus is also displayed in Dari and Pashto. Credit: Joe Maher/Getty Images

Home Office "red tape" and "disorganisation" have been blamed for ongoing delays of rehoming thousands of Afghan refugees in London.

Campaigners have warned that, aside from the cost, hotels are inappropriate places to house people long-term.

Enver Solomon, chief executive officer of the Refugee Council, described the use of hotels as “an incredibly costly and failed strategy that could be easily fixed by using public money more effectively to house people in our communities and allow them the right to work”.

“The UK government did a lot, I am thankful to them, but there are some steps they’re not taking I don’t know, especially for the individuals living in London, they don’t care about them,” Mansoor continued.

“Families have been moved to their permanent housing but for individuals like me, we are still in the hotel.

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“Living in a hotel for 11 months is very difficult and frustrating, you can’t cook or bring guests in.”

Mansoor also ran his own NGO in Kabul, working with Afghan widows and orphans.

He described the days after the Taliban takeover.

“When the Taliban took over Kabul, we had no chance, nobody could believe what could happen next,” he said.

“I was in Kabul for four days after the Taliban took over.

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“At first I believed that everything would be good, as they said no one would be harmed.

“But we soon learned that this was a lie and we were in danger so we took the next step to come to the UK.”

Around 16,000 Afghans were evacuated to the UK in 2021 - the biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in UK history

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has made one of the largest commitments to resettlement of any country.

“Our scheme will provide up to 20,000 Afghan women, children and other at risk groups with a safe and legal route to resettle in the UK.

“We are working as fast as possible to house everyone and are proud this country has provided homes for more than 6,000 Afghans evacuees in such a short space of time.

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“We urge councils to join over 300 local authorities who have pledged to support Afghan families, and those who can offer more housing places, to do so.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

A spokesperson for the mayor of London, said: “It is disappointing that more than 2,000 refugees from Afghanistan are still in hotel accommodation in the capital nearly a year after Government pledged to resettle them.

“The Mayor is doing all he can to build a better and fairer London for everyone.

“He is helping councils house refugees through the Right to Buy-back fund, and helping migrants and refugees navigate a hostile immigration system by funding advice services and creating an information hub, but the Government needs to urgently provide more funding to local authorities, as well as to voluntary sector and immigration advice services.

“Ministers must step forward to ensure that support is there to help refugees in their time of need.”