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LONDON: Thousands of Afghan refugees who were housed in hotels in the UK after Kabul was evacuated last year have been urged by authorities to search for new accommodation through online property portals.

The UK Home Office has told refugees to find accommodation on Rightmove or Zoopla, The Guardian reported.

On the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover, the British government is still providing hotel rooms for 9,500 Afghan refugees, of whom only 7,000 have been relocated.

Although charities have welcomed the steps taken by the government to end the use of hotels to house refugees, charity officials fear that many will be unable to find suitable accommodation in the private rental sector and may find themselves homeless.

Afghan families with children will find it difficult to find sufficiently large affordable housing using the housing allowance provided.

Charities have also highlighted the fact that refugees may not be able to negotiate their own rental contracts due to language barriers and would not have documents such as passports and bank statements needed to rent property.

Home Office sources say that as well as encouraging Afghan families living in hotels to seek their own accommodation, they aim to give each family two choices of accommodation somewhere in the UK. However, it is unclear whether they will have a choice of location.

The Home Office said the accommodation offers would be “good, decent offers”, but if families rejected the offers they would get an additional two months of hotel accommodation. He did not say what would happen if the families were unable to find accommodation after that.

Home Office sources say they are trying to encourage Afghan families to move to other parts of the UK, such as Wales, but this can be problematic for families with children who attend the school in big cities like London.

Waiting lists for public housing are long, especially for large properties that can accommodate Afghan families with three or more children.

Although Afghan families are allowed to rent under immigration rules and landlords can check this using an online tool, some are reluctant to rent to people who do not have a UK passport or proof of living in the UK such as utility bills and payslips.

A letter sent to Afghan refugees by the Home Office says not all councils will accept an application from families to be put on social housing waiting lists, urging them to start looking in the rental sector private.

“Not all advice will support you, so it’s important to check,” the letters read. They urged refugees to search for multiple properties to increase their chances of finding accommodation as the UK housing market is “very competitive”.

Eva Tabbasam, director of Gender Action for Peace and Security, expressed concern about the plans.

“Afghan families could not have imagined that a year after their arrival, they would still be stored in unsuitable accommodation, without space, privacy and stability. There is also a serious risk of homelessness for these families if adequate housing is not provided under current Home Office plans, Tabbasam said.

“The government has had a year to fix things – instead it is getting worse. If suitable accommodation were readily available for the 9,500 people still in hotels, families would have already been settled there. We do not yet know what type of accommodation families will be offered,” she added.

Claire Holland, executive member of the London Councils for Communities, said: “The boroughs are very concerned about the lack of alternative housing options for these families – a particular challenge in the capital due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing here. .”

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said using hotels to house those relocating from Afghanistan is a temporary solution.

“We continue to work with more than 350 local authorities to move Afghan families from hotels to permanent housing as quickly as possible,” they said.

“To support the resettlement of Afghan families, local authorities are receiving £20,520 ($24,789) per person over a three-year period. They have the option of using this funding to help rent a home, including deposits, rental fees and furnishings.

Aurora J. William