Afghan ex-BBC journalist stranded for months due to Home Office scheme delays

A former BBC correspondent for an Afghan man who managed to escape from the Taliban has been in a refugee camp for months because of a delay in a reform plan promised by the British government.

Mudassar Kadir * is one of 14 former BBC staff members who have fled Afghanistan since the Taliban took power in August. The other 13 are being held for fear of losing their lives.

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Kadir, who has also spent time working with the World Bank and the Afghan government, hopes he and his family can start a new life after leaving Afghanistan, but since escaping in early October with the help of the United States, Kadir and his wife and two boys are trapped in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Dubai.

The Kadir thanked the United Arab Emirates for the shelter and were well cared for, but managed to escape more than 100m from the building and the UAE would not accept asylum.

Kadir is outraged by attacks by British government officials in response to his appeal, and is still living in fear of being sent back to Afghanistan where his BBC work has turned him into a terrorist attack. Taliban.

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“The UK should be responsible for taking care of me and my family. My life is in danger because I have worked for the BBC. The British government knows this but they have not done anything to help me,” he said.

“At first we hoped the UK would give me a visa, but now that every day is over my worries are growing.”

Activists say the civil unrest has left thousands of Afghan refugees in a state of shock, unable to return home for fear of persecution and being barred from going wherever they want to be treated as refugees.

The British government has promised an Afghan Citizenship Rehabilitation Program (ACRS) to help nearly 5,000 people in one year from January, in addition to sanctions on Afghanistan and humanitarian aid (Arap).

Kadir does not qualify for Arap, which has helped less than 400 people so far, and cannot apply for the ACRS because it is not open and if it does then authorizers will be accepted for adjustment from the NGO only. Advertisers fear that the UK government will deliberately delay the implementation of the idea in an effort to reduce the amount.

The Home Office rejected this. “ACRS is one of the most generous consultations in the history of our country and will put an additional 20,000 people at risk of new life in the UK,” the spokesman said.

“We continue to work quickly to open the door to a complex and transformative picture, working across government and with partners like UNHCR to formulate the policy.” He refused to discuss individual issues.

Asked to explain the delay, the Home Office said it was working on a “biometric registration” system with a check to ensure that recipients did not pose a threat to national security.

The Coalition for the Development of Migrants representing Kadir and several others in the conflict says time is running out.

Short-term president Minnie Rahman said: “For the past three months, our government has promised ‘good luck’ to Afghan refugees but at the same time we seem to welcome the return of our precious children.

“According to Kadir, many Afghans feel abandoned by the British government, even though it has ties to Britain. The reform process has not been reopened, family ties are limited and our government has failed to provide them. many of those who risked their lives to work with us in the homes they urgently needed. ”

The National Union of Journalists is planning to provide security documents for all former BBC staff in Afghanistan, including survivors of a military coup in October.

Her secretary-general, Michelle Stanistreet, said: “As progress is being made in rapid reform, journalists are living in fear and being forced to hide. We need urgent and drastic measures taken to ensure a safe and secure life for the British people of all Afghans at risk. ”

A BBC spokesman said: “We have already shown sympathy for the staff, but we regret that we do not have the space to provide direct assistance.”

Kadir said: “My hope is that the British government will keep its promise to me and my family. But now it seems that no one really cares about me. Since arriving in the United Arab Emirates two months ago, there has been no river development. ”

Afghans coming to the UK feel like prisoners after being caught in a vicious cycle, many of whom have told the Guardian, expressing concern about human rights and freedoms.

Thousands of government officials and Nato troops have been evacuated from Kabul following the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan in late August. They were separated for 10 days at a hotel when he arrived because Afghanistan was on a “red carpet” trip.

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But some say they have not received any information about the “houses” they have promised as part of a government reform plan, and that they have resisted any chance of getting air, and do not know when they will. can opt – any. when their minds are damaged.

Hasib Nooralam, the former director of Afghanistan’s chief prosecutor’s office, has been detained at the Park Plaza Hotel near Waterloo in London for 20 days or two a day, “he said. o’i 24, we are allowed only 15 minutes. There are also many children in this hotel. People are crying and crying. ”

He said it was obtained through torture and was obtained through torture. “No one knows what is going on. Maybe they keep us here for a month, maybe two months, who knows?

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A second trainer from Afghanistan held the hotel for 20 days, demanding anonymity, saying many were in the bathroom. “I can’t explain it,” they said. “It simply came to our notice then. I asked for a phone number for someone to contact at the Home Office but they did not give me. The system is broken.

“We can’t open the windows for fresh air. Many of our children who do not speak English cannot wrestle. No one heard their voice. ”

A man who spent 17 days in a hotel with his pregnant wife and children near Heathrow says they know some who have been working as police in Afghanistan for a long time. “Our mental state is not good at all,” he said.

An Afghan translator who worked for a British soldier for several years said the Swindon Hotel where he and his wife and two children were being held appeared to be in jail.

Despite the end of the separation four days ago, he said they had to book the hotel table whenever they wanted to travel, hours of waiting for security officers to take them to the airport and then only 20 minutes. before giving them orders. . return to their rooms and do not come out again until the next day.

“No one can tell us how long we will stay here or what will happen next,” he said. “The phone number cannot be called to ask the authorities and when you send an email to Arap [movement and aid operations in Afghanistan] they will not respond for weeks.”

Dr Andrew Kidd OBE, who led the British aid program in Afghanistan for three years and is one of 60 senior government officials working in a country that plans to increase its assistance to refugees, “It cannot be said that some of our Afghan colleagues. Those who worked in the UK with experience and dedication stayed with their families in a special hotel days after the end of the secession,” he said.

“It raises questions about human rights and just about their mental health. This is not the kind of welcome that Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to ‘welcome’.

Carolyn Webster, a former Conservative parliamentary candidate and Bridgend independent consultant, is organizing meetings for Afghans stranded in British hotels after the secession, in a bid to elevate their position with the British government.

He says more days people lock up because “they don’t look like much but it does – especially when they don’t talk”.

“They understand the importance of isolation – they agree, they are happy to do it. But it is a lack of communication. If they are not isolated, they should be allowed to leave. , to learn about our culture and to integrate it into our culture. But they are not given this opportunity. ”

Last week, Afghans in hotels were told they would be allowed to stay free of charge “until more accommodation is provided by the Interior Office”.

“This will be a hotel, while efforts are being made to find permanent accommodation,” a letter from the Superintendent said. “However, if you choose to stay in our specialized company