SERIOUS concerns have been voiced over the plight of hundreds of Afghan refugees in Scottish hotels who are still waiting for homes.

“Staying in a hotel for so long is not a luxury and it is contributing to poor mental health and other issues,” said Abdul Bostani, of Glasgow Afghan United.

He said more than 400 refugees, including children, were still in hotels in Aberdeen, Fife and Edinburgh.

“Parents are extremely worried about their children,” said Bostani. “There is a lack of privacy, there is a lack of space to play, learn and access to cooking and cleaning facilities.”

Bostani hit out following outrage over a Home Office warning that refugees languishing in hotels must accept the first homes they are offered. Sources have said the Home Office wants the refugees out of hotels by the end of this year.

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Humanitarian groups have told veterans’ affairs minister Johnny Mercer that the refugees will end up homeless after he said that anyone who turned down their first offer would not be offered an alternative.

Charities claim this flies in the face of the warm welcome the Afghan refugees were offered by the UK on the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan in 2021.

There are almost 9000 Afghan refugees in hotels across the UK and many have been stuck in them for around 18 months.

Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council said the fact they have been left in hotels for months on end was a consequence of UK Government “mismanagement” as well as a failure to work successfully in partnership with local councils and other agencies to find suitable housing.

“We are deeply concerned about many elements of these plans, in particular the risk that they could lead to people who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan being left homeless and destitute on the streets,” said Solomon.

Homeless charity Shelter urged the Government “to make good” on its promises to support traumatised Afghan families who have fled persecution.

“The Government must make sure that every homeless family is supported to move into a suitable settled home, where they can get on with rebuilding their lives,” said a Shelter spokesperson.

Bostani said Home Office and UK Government policy around asylum had become “worse and worse”.

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He is urging the Scottish Government and local authorities to “do all they can” to secure permanent accommodation for refugees and support them with access to education, training and the labour market “to build the independent and productive lives they want to lead”.

“This will unlock the skills of medics, accountants, engineers and more workers that the country needs,” said Bostani. “We further call on the UK Government to rethink its punitive approach to asylum seekers and refugees and to treat all people with fairness and dignity, in accordance with international law.”

Afghan United’s concerns have been echoed by the Scottish Refugee Council.

“Hotels are not appropriate accommodation for people seeking protection, especially children,” said a spokesperson.

“People who have fled Afghanistan are likely to have experienced violence, trauma and oppression and deserve to be given a safe space where they can set-up a home and become involved in local communities – something made incredibly difficult by being placed in hotels.

“We would urge the government to focus on longer-term, suitable housing solutions and to ensure that both people seeking protection and local communities are given the support they need in the move to a new area.”

The Home Office gave no response when asked by the Sunday National for comment.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “We continue to engage with the UK Government to ensure that Afghan families can be matched with property offers made by local authorities as soon as possible.

“However, it is not acceptable that as a result of the upcoming hotel closures programme families could be evicted from government provided accommodation into homelessness.”