By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter
Hundreds of Afghan refugees could be trapped in Central London hotels for a year.
Nearly 700 refugees could be trapped in distressing living conditions as it could take a long time to find homes in Westminster’s already crowded housing list.
Westminster City council leader Rachael Robathan revealed that refugees fleeing the Taliban may not be able to have a permanent home any time soon.
Speaking at Westminster’s scrutiny committee on November 23 Cllr Robathan said: “The unofficial accounts are that this could take up to a year.
“I think we know there’s a lot of pressure on housing. We know we need to be delivering much more housing and much more family-sized housing. This really brings it home.
“We need to manage expectations at the moment. It will be very difficult to find suitable housing and we have other families who have been waiting for years on the list.”
So far the council has successfully placed almost 400 Afghan children into schools in the borough or in nearby Brent and Hammersmith and Fulham.
Currently, 675 Afghan refugees are being housed in empty hotels in the north of Westminster.
But charity West London Welcome are worried refugees being stuck in limbo is causing “mental distress”.
The council leader added: “Even the outer boroughs will say they have pressure on places. I’m very conscious that the children in the schools will be putting down roots and if they are not going to stay here it will be very destructive for them the longer they stay.
“The sooner families can be housed in their permanent home the better.”
The politician is set to meet with Afghan resettlement minister Victoria Atkins next week to discuss how refugees can be found permanent homes sooner although many larger families may have to be housed outside London.
The waiting list for a four-bedroom home people in Westminster is 34 years according to councillors.
Charities have been Inundated with volunteers wanting to help refugees while barbers have been giving free haircuts.
QPR also recently invited refugees in Hammersmith and Fulham to watch a match at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government has undertaken the UK’s biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history helping over 15,000 people to safety.
“There is now a huge effort underway to get families into permanent homes so they can settle and rebuild their lives, and to ensure those still temporarily accommodated in hotels have access to healthcare, education, any essential items they need and employment opportunities or Universal Credit.
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