Former Afghan BBC journalist who managed to flee the Taliban stranded in refugee camp for months

·2-min read
File photo: Thousands of people fled Afghanistan after the Taliban secured administrative and political power by force in August this year (Getty Images)
File photo: Thousands of people fled Afghanistan after the Taliban secured administrative and political power by force in August this year (Getty Images)

A former BBC journalist from Afghanistan who escaped the Taliban regime has been stranded in a refugee camp in Dubai for many months as the resettlement scheme negotiated by the UK administration has run into delays, leaving him and his family without a roof.

The man is among a group of 14 former BBC employees who worked in Afghanistan but is the only one to have fled his homeland after the hardline Islamist group secured administrative and political power by force in August this year.

After fleeing Afghanistan in October with assistance from a US charity, the man, his wife and two sons have been residing on the outskirts of Dubai in a refugee centre, reported The Guardian. However, the family is not allowed to stray 100m beyond the centre.

Their ordeal is magnified by the former journalist’s repeated requests for help from the UK government, which have remained unanswered. At the moment, the UAE is not accepting asylum applications, which has prevented the family from seeking accommodation in the Middle East country.

The journalist, who has previously worked for the World Bank and the former Afghanistan administration, is believed to be an easy target for the Taliban — if sent back to Afghanistan in the absence of approval from the UK — which is a big fear for him and his family.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed for his safety, said that initially they were hopeful of securing a visa from the UK, “but now with each passing day, my frustration grows”.

The Independent has reached out to the BBC for comment.

Activists and campaigners seeking a safe environment for the man’s family as well as other Afghans who left their country say that these people have been abandoned by the British government, which had promised to keep them safe.

Minnie Rahman, the interim chief executive of Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said that the UK had promised a warm welcome to the people fleeing Taliban. But there’s little being done to achieve this. “Many Afghans appear to have been shamefully abandoned by the British government, despite clear links to the UK,” she said.

The UK administration had launched a programme to aid nearly 5,000 people under the “Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme”, parallel to their efforts of more restrictive Afghanistan relocation and assistance policy.

However, the journalist and his family will not be included under the new programme as it is yet to open and will only accept referrals of resettlement from NGOs.

However, the UK Home Office, which refused to discuss individual cases, said that the resettlement scheme was one of the most generous schemes in the country’s history and is expected to give a new lease of life to up to 20,000 people at risk.

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