19 August 2021

Former British army airbase worker granted settlement stuck in Afghanistan

19 August 2021

A former British army airbase worker who is stuck in Afghanistan has described his fear of not being able to get out of the country after his application to move to the UK was disrupted by the Taliban’s takeover.

The worker, who the PA news agency is not naming, told how he previously worked in the British armed forces base in Helmand province between 2007 and 2014.

He was granted settlement in the UK for him and his family just days before the Taliban captured Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Helmand province.

The British Army has been flown out to help move people from Afghanistan to the UK (LPhot Ben Shread/MoD Crown copyright/PA) (PA Media)

As part of the final stages before their move, he was required to send off his family’s passports to the Afghan government to be validated.

However, the documents are now locked in a building which has since closed after the government collapsed.

The worker said he has not heard from the British Government since Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul fell to the extremist group and is extremely worried for his and his family’s safety.

He told PA: “I am really worried and concerned about the wellbeing of myself and my family. Anything can happen at any moment to us.

“When anyone knocks on my door I expect something bad will happen to me. When I see the Taliban’s movements outside of my compound, [I see] they are searching houses of government officials who have been living there. It’s really frustrating and exhausting situation.

The Ministry of Defence has been working to get people out of Afghanistan for several days (Paul Crouch/PA) (PA Media)

“If my family’s lives and my life are saved, that would be greatly appreciated.”

The worker described the Taliban’s takeover as a “shock” to him and his family.

“I didn’t expect that the Taliban would, once again, be able to take over and collapse the Afghan government,” he said.

“Everybody’s shocked. I thought that the Afghan national army would be able to resist troops for at least a year or a couple of months. But everything changed very soon.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “Nobody’s life should be put at risk because they supported the UK Government in Afghanistan. Over the last few weeks alone more than 2,000 Afghan staff and family members have been relocated to start their new lives in the UK.

“We have significantly expanded and accelerated the relocation scheme and carefully assess each applicant for eligibility and security. Those who were dismissed for serious offences, including those that constitute a crime in the UK or threatened the safety and security of British troops, will continue to be excluded.”

The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.

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