Afghan asylum seeker stuck in London hotel for a year cannot ring home for fear of Taliban reprisals

·3-min read
Dayan Gadery (left) has been living at the Holiday Inn in Wembley for a year (Evening Standard)
Dayan Gadery (left) has been living at the Holiday Inn in Wembley for a year (Evening Standard)

An Afghan asylum seeker living in a hotel in London says he is too scared to call home because he fears the Taliban will kill his family.

Dayan Gadery, 18, has been living in a room at the Holiday Inn at Wembley Park for a year after fleeing his home in Kabul.

Awaiting refugee status, he is desperate to speak to his family in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops and the Taliban takeover.

He has not contacted his parents for two weeks fearing they will be killed by Taliban militants if they discover he has been in contact.

Dayan told the Standard: “My parents and two sisters are in Afghanistan and I’m scared for them. I have not contacted them for two weeks because I’m afraid it will put them in danger.

“If the Taliban see they have been speaking to someone in Europe or America, they will kill them.

“When I spoke to my dad he said ‘please don’t call me’ because the Taliban are controlling my home.”

“Every home is being controlled in Afghanistan and people’s phones too. My parents are not going to work because they are so scared.”

Dayan fled Afghanistan more than six years ago because he translated for US soldiers as a child.

“I was afraid to stay in Afghanistan because I feared the Taliban would kill me,” he said.

“It was very dangerous. I have two friends who were killed by the Taliban and I was afraid of what they might do to me because I helped the Americans.”

Dayan crossed the Channel from Calais on a dingy with some 25 other people last year after spending time in France and Germany.

After arriving in the UK, he was given temporary accommodation at the Holiday Inn where he says he is staying with several other Afghan asylum seekers and regular hotel guests.

One year on, he is still waiting to hear back from the Home Office as to whether he will be allowed to live and work in the UK or be sent back to Afghanistan.

A recent study by the Refugee Council found the average waiting time for an initial decision on an asylum case is between one and three years.

Freedom of Information requests of Home Office data obtained by the charity show that the number of people waiting for more than a year increased almost tenfold from 3,588 in 2010 to 33,016 in 2020.

More than 250 people including 55 children were forced to wait for five years or more for an initial decision on their case.

CEO Enver Solomon described the situation as “cruel and unjust” leaving vulnerable men, women and children in a “never ending state of limbo” while they wait for news of their fate.

He said instead of a system that works on timely decisions with competence and compassion, the government’s asylum reforms “are likely to lead to even longer waits with even more people condemned to years of worry and uncertainty”.

The Evening Standard has contacted the Home Office for comment.

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