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It is understood that the housing shortage in the city has made it impossible for the Home Office to find suitable accommodation in the city on time, with hotels being used “due to pressure from the numbers of people being resettled”.
The UK government has so far said it will resettle 5,000 Afghans to the UK in the first year of the Afghan resettlement program, with up to 20,000 in total in the long term.
Last year, it emerged that the average wait time for a three-bedroom communal house in the capital was over three years.
The Home Office said it was “determined to protect vulnerable people fleeing Afghanistan,” and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK government would establish offshore processing centers in countries like Pakistan and Turkey.
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In a letter to councilors, sent ahead of a plenary meeting on Thursday, Edinburgh City Council chief Adam McVey said the city would “provide support and shelter to as many Afghans in need”.
In his report, Leith SNP adviser wrote: âNo one can fail to be shocked and appalled by the news coming out of Afghanistan and as a city we are ready to help in any way we can.
âScotland’s capital has a long and proud history of welcoming people fleeing desperate circumstances like these.
âOur highly skilled team has forged a positive track record over the past five years, welcoming, supporting and successfully settling over 500 people displaced by the Syrian civil war in our city.
âWe are in contact with the UK Government and the Scottish Government and are developing plans on how best we and our partners can provide support and housing to the greatest number of Afghans in need.
âWe hope to be able to confirm Edinburgh’s level of involvement very soon.
“In the meantime, we continue to work at the pace of the Home Office and our city partners to ensure that support is put in place for those fleeing for their lives as the situation in their country of origin is deteriorating. “
A briefing note sent to advisers points out that the Home Office is now considering securing hotel accommodation in Edinburgh.
The briefing note reads: âMembers will be aware of the recent deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and of press reports on the various ways in which the UK government is responding to its humanitarian implications.
âOfficers are in regular contact with the UK and Scottish governments to develop plans on how the council and our partners can best provide support and accommodation to as many Afghan refugees as possible.
âThe permanent resettlement of a cohort of Afghans (and their families) previously employed by the British services in Afghanistan is under consideration.
âThey would be housed in surplus Ministry of Defense property. The MoD leasing deal has yet to be concluded, but it is moving urgently forward.
âThe Home Office has indicated (via COSLA) that due to pressure from the number of people currently resettled, it intends to move forward with plans to procure hotel rooms in Edinburgh.
âDue to the speed with which plans are being made, details – including exact numbers and locations – have yet to be confirmed.
“Work will continue with the Home Office and its partners and in particular services such as education and health to coordinate arrival and support planning.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: âThe UK government will always stand by those fleeing persecution or oppression when they need it, which is why thousands of Afghans most. needy people will be welcomed to the UK through one of our most ambitious resettlement programs.
âEvery day we work closely with local authorities across the UK to ensure suitable accommodation and support for people seeking asylum or resettlement in the UK.
âWe are grateful to all local authorities who are currently supporting and encouraging all local authorities to come forward and offer additional assistance to these vulnerable people.
âWhile this is permanent housing, the Home Office ensures that there is sufficient safe emergency housing where people’s immediate needs can be met.
âDedicated officials continue to work around the clock with local authorities to ensure those arriving in the UK have the accommodation and assistance they deserve. “