Afghan refugees could be given temporary accommodation in Airbnb properties under plans being considered by the UK Government.

The Home Office also confirmed a majority of Scottish councils had offered homes as part of the resettlement scheme.

President Joe Biden’ s botched withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan threatened to create a humanitarian crisis in the country.

Thousands of Afghans, including those who helped the US and UK during the conflict, left for fear of reprisals from the Taliban.

The UK Government has committed to welcoming around 20,000 over the coming years - a figure described by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as “woefully inadequate”.

Speaking to the Record, Afghan Resettlement Minister Victoria Atkins, said of the initial evacuation: “In those very, very dangerous circumstances, the British Army, Border Force, civil servants and officials managed to evacuate 15,000 people. And this was an extraordinary evacuation effort.

“We wanted to look after British nationals. We wanted to look after people who had worked with the British Army and the British government.”

On the wider effort of helping Afghans, she said most councils north of the border had responded positively: “Of the 32 local authorities, I think 18 have been kind enough to offer homes, and obviously we'd love to persuade the others to do so as well.

“And that's my plea not just to Scottish local authorities, but any local authority across the United Kingdom that hasn't yet been able to make a formal offer.

“If in a year or two's time we have got Afghan doctors and nurses within our NHS then that would be a fantastic bonus for our country and for them.”

On the range of housing solutions under discussion, a UK Government spokesperson said: “There is also Airbnb, who are interested in offering a kind of a temporary solution.”

Of the 15,000 people who were initially evacuated, this amounts to around 3,000 households.

Atkins declined to say how many offers of housing had been made to date: “We are not going to give a running tally. We are a month and a half from the evacuation.”

A spokesperson for COSLA, which represents councils, said the figure of 18 cited by Atkins was was "wrong", adding:

"Scottish Local Government has repeatedly shown its willingness to support the UK’s humanitarian efforts and is doing so again in relation to the crisis in Afghanistan. Since July, around 260 people from Afghanistan have been welcomed in to local authorities across Scotland and councils have worked at pace to welcome families into communities and to provide the wrap around support that is required for their integration.

"Almost all councils in Scotland have now committed to supporting the two Afghan resettlement schemes, and they are working through a range of necessary and practical issues to ensure a good match between properties and Afghan families. In addition, COSLA is continuing to work with the UK Government to seek to expedite current processes so that property offers that councils have already made can be matched with Afghan families as soon as possible."

It is understood the number of participating Scottish councils could be as high as 29.

A spokesperson for Airnbnb said: “ and our community of Hosts are helping to resettle tens of thousands of Afghan refugees worldwide. For these refugees, our hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home. We are continuing our positive talks with the Home Office about resettlement efforts in the UK.”

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