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Grenfell survivors are still waiting to move on one year after fire destroyed their homes

”Coming back to this area reminds you of everything. The time they were burning and shouting for help, and we were standing and watching them.”

by Yousra Elbagir and Sarah Burke
Jun 15 2018, 12:08am

Zeinab Jafari lived at the foot of Grenfell Tower when a fire tore through the West London apartment complex last year, killing 72 people and leaving hundreds more homeless.

Jafari’s father-in-law lived on the 11th floor of the 24-story tower and was among those who died, in what became the deadliest domestic blaze in the U.K. since World War II.

The tragedy shocked the country and sparked a massive public inquiry into the causes of the fire and the failures of the immediate response. In the aftermath, the local council promised to re-house residents and spent $310 million buying up new homes in the area.

But one year on, only 82 of 209 households most severely impacted by the fire — including residents of the tower itself — have actually moved in. Fifty-five families are still living in temporary accommodations and 72 are in hotels.

Jafari is among more than 120 other families in the surrounding buildings also waiting to be housed. She’s desperate to leave her home of 20 years in an effort to move on from the fire that killed her father-in-law, friends and neighbors.

“I can’t stay in this area anymore,” says Zeinab. “It’s not easy to forget about them, even when they demolish this building. Now they cover it but it’s not going to change anything. Coming back to this area reminds you of everything. The time they were burning and shouting for help, and we were standing and watching them.”

The public inquiry and parallel criminal investigation are currently underway to examine the events that allowed highly flammable cladding to be used in a 2016 refurbishment of the tower. Criminal charges have yet to be made.

VICE News visited Lancaster West Estate one year after the Grenfell tragedy.

Cover image: Grenfell Tower, now covered in plastic sheeting, one year since the blaze, which claimed 72 lives.(Press Association via AP Images)