Orkney Council has asked private landlords to help them provide accommodation for Afghan families amid a “strain” on their own housing.
The local authority hopes to provide two private rental sector properties for those fleeing the country after the fall of Kabul two months ago, as part of a wider UK resettlement scheme.
Registered landlords, or those considering becoming registered landlords, are being asked to approach the council.
The call is focused towards those with family-friendly properties on the mainland, particularly in Stromness and Kirkwall where support networks are more accessible.
Frances Troup, the local authority’s head of community learning, leisure and housing said: “The families concerned are already in the UK and are currently in bridging hotels while waiting for an offer of accommodation.
“The project concerned is humanitarian in nature and the last few months have seen the situation change and develop quite swiftly.
“A funding package has been put in place to assist with this process and our understanding is that additional costs can be sought where there is an evidenced need.”
She said one landlord had come forward, but the offered housing had only one bedroom so had to be turned down.
Criticism on social media
Earlier this year, local authority association Cosla asked all councils in Scotland to assist with resettling refugees from Afghanistan.
A post from Orkney Islands Council on Facebook including the request for landlords attracted a considerable amount of criticism from users, several of whom accused the authority of failing to put “locals first”.
In response, a representative wrote: “It’s sad to see folk turning on each other. We can only but imagine the horrors that these families have more than likely witnessed.
“Surely as civilised, compassionate human beings then we must, at least, try and help.”
A number of other users commented in support of the efforts to rehouse the families.
Families have ‘witnessed horrors’
Councillor Gwenda Shearer, who heads the education, housing and leisure committee, said: “We, as councillors, shared our commitment to try and help the Afghan families if that is at all possible while also recognising the ongoing strain on the Council’s own housing list.
“With this in mind, we agreed to try and source two suitable properties from within the private sector.”
She added: “These are, without question, families who will have been through an incredibly difficult time and may have witnessed horrors that no one should.
“Orkney is renowned for its caring and compassionate nature so we are hopeful that we will be able to source suitable homes for these households who deserve a period of stability in their lives.”