n Afghan evacuee who has been living in a hotel near Leeds for almost a year has described feeling like his family’s “lives have come to a standstill” as they wait for news from the Home Office about permanent residency.
In a letter seen by the BBC, Refugees Minister Lord Harrington appealed to councils to help house the 10,500 Afghans who are currently staying in hotels across the UK.
Marwa Kofi, 21, fled Kabul, Afghanistan when the city fell to the Taliban in August last year and has been living in two hotels for the past 12 months.
She said Sal had felt “wasted” and had recently been separated from family members after three of them were moved from a hotel in Selby, North Yorkshire, to a hotel near Crawley, West Sussex. was
“I stayed in a hotel for 11 months, I don’t want to stay in a hotel for another 11 months,” Ms Coffey, who will study international relations at King’s College London in September, told the PA news agency.
“I wasted a year because my hotel (in Selby) was in a place where I couldn’t do anything.
“When I think about this year, I just see it as a blank – it’s nothing, I haven’t done anything.
“You don’t even have the energy to get out of bed because you know your day is nothing.
“I feel like our lives have stopped, I just want our lives to play out.”
Ms Coffey was moved on July 26 to a hotel near Crawley where she lives with her mother and brother.
Her 35-year-old sister is staying in a hotel outside Leeds while Ms Coffey’s two brothers, aged 23 and 26, were sent to a hotel in Manchester.
She said being separated from her family has reopened the psychological wounds she suffered after leaving her home in Afghanistan.
“With Leeds, we were all together and we were there for each other,” he said.
“We had a wound from leaving Afghanistan and together, we tried to bandage it and we were fine and the wound was no longer bleeding.
But after dividing the families, the bandages seem to have been removed and they begin to bleed.
“Memories of Afghanistan come every day and because we are alone, we have more time to think about what happened to us.”
Ms Coffey said Lord Harrington’s push to send Afghan refugees home was only a “brilliant idea” if it was going to be implemented.
“This is something the Afghans really want, I hope it doesn’t fail,” he said.
“This is what I want to feel after losing my home in Afghanistan and what I want is to have a home where I feel at home.
“Once you feel like you’re in a house and it’s your own house and you can clean your room, put your house in order, it might not feel like your own country. But you will feel that this is your home.”
I don’t have hope anymore.
The student added that she and her family had lost hope that they might get permanent residence.
“There is always hope and there is always a bright light, but I want to feel that word again,” she said.
“I don’t feel it anymore.
“No one else does—no one in my family.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The response to the crisis in Afghanistan last August was one of the most challenging, intense and complex overseas operations undertaken by the UK, and the largest air evacuation operation in recent memory.
“We are proud that this country has provided homes for more than 7,000 Afghan evacuees in such a short space of time, but we face a challenge that the UK is currently not only providing shelter for Afghans and those in need of protection, There is not enough local accommodation for , but also British citizens who are on the waiting list for homes.
“While hotels do not provide a long-term solution, they do offer safe, secure and clean accommodation.
“We will continue to reduce the number of people in hotel construction, moving people into more sustainable housing as quickly as possible.”