A Salford graduate from Afghanistan is looking to escape the Taliban with his young family to move back to the city.
Ali, which is not his real name, fears that it is only a matter of time before he and his family are either found by the Taliban or “perish due to the ever-increasing difficulties” of being forced into hiding and cut off from civilisation.
He has been forced into hiding since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August, using his “dwindling savings” to survive.
He said: “Life is extremely difficult now. The constant worry of being tracked down by the Taliban is debilitating. There is no life for individuals like us in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.”
Ali studied at the University of Salford between 2006 and 2012, completing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and says that his time in the city was “transformative”.
Ali wants to be resettled to Salford so that his two boys, aged four and five, can “carry on the family tradition of completing their British education and be a productive member of society”.
He says that had Rebecca Long-Bailey, the MP for Salford and Eccles, co-operated he is certain he would have been part of the evacuations in August.
Every day since August, he says he has approached government officials begging for help, but to no avail.
Ali claims that due to a lack of communication from his former MP in August, he was unable to register for the flights.
Responding to these claims, Ms Long-Bailey said “Due to GDPR we cannot discuss individual cases but we have been trying to get Government help for huge numbers of constituents in Salford who have family members and friends trapped in Afghanistan.
“Sadly as is reported by multiple MPs in Parliament, too many Afghan people to who we owe a duty, have been left abandoned in the collapse of the Afghan government, with far too little preparation or support from the British government. The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), confirmed on 18 August, is not yet open, the 5,000 limit on Afghan refugees will be insufficient and sadly many of those who have managed to flee to the UK have no recourse to public funds and are outside of the resettlement scheme facing poverty and insecurity.
“The reality is too many vulnerable people in need of support will be left facing deadly danger and the Government must urgently work with other nations to provide the safety Afghan refugees deserve.”
At least 12,000 people were evacuated from Kabul airport, including a mixture of western government staff, aid workers, and Afghan residents who’ve worked with western governments, or people perceived to be at risk due to the nature of their work.
Ali fears that he is at risk of persecution from the Taliban due to his British education and his work as a teacher. He is also from the persecuted Hazara ethnic minority, and the fact he cannot speak Afghan languages.
His fear is that this means that, if he was found, the Taliban would consider him to be a British official because of his documents.
Ali said: “They view individuals like myself as conspirators and spies of the British, they think we deserve death and nothing else.”
Ali says that, other than the UK, he doesn’t “have any credible option of finding a sanctuary”.
He claims that the family have only received “credible support and correspondence” from one person: Debbie Abrahams, the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.
Ali says that Abrahams passed on the case details to the home office, but this was the only help he has received to date.
“Other than this I have not had any correspondence from relevant UK officials to assure me that take they are aware of my desperate circumstances and working to address it.
“Such correspondence would provide much-needed assurances and go a long way to alleviate my deep and difficult situation and anxieties.”
Furthermore, the effects of life in hiding are starting to impact the family.
“The mental strain of being holed up without any income, dwindling savings, and without any assurances from British authorities is intense and taking a huge toll on my relationship, children and our futures.
“We are afraid all these unnecessary experiences may leave a permanent scarring effect and trauma for the rest of our lives.”
Ali hopes that he will be helped to escape the Taliban controlled Afghanistan soon, before his family run out of savings and time.
“Unfortunately, there is a very small window of opportunity left before I am hunted down by the Taliban or, come springtime, it is projected there will be a serious risk of resumption of all-out war between Taliban and other factions.”
However, for now, he is trying to stay positive and hopeful that help is on the way.
“Not all hope has been lost. I hope the University move in to help and assist me without any further delay and immediately communicate and coordinate with relevant government authorities to lobby and prioritize my plight.”
The University of Salford has responded to Ali’s claims that they were uncooperative in getting him assistance.
A spokesperson for the University said: “We have been in touch directly with University of Salford alumni who have reached out to us for support in relation to the situation in Afghanistan. We appreciate that the situation is pressing and have been doing all that we can to find information and pathways of support for those affected.
“We have spoken to the Home Office directly, to our local MP and reached out to organisations such as the UNHCR on their behalf. Universities have been given a specific method to liaise with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office about our current and new students but unfortunately this does not extend to our alumni. There is no mechanism for us to intervene on behalf of individuals, much as we wish we could.
“We are all extremely frustrated by the situation and can only imagine the stress and pain that those individuals affected are feeling. We are so sorry not to have any more information or solutions for this current situation but it appears that all parties involved in this effort, from MPs to NGOs, are waiting for the Home Office to announce the structure of the ACRS (Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme), which will much better inform how we might be able to support the efforts of Salford alumni.
“Such a confused and fast moving situation presents so many challenges, with so much outside of our sphere of influence, both as an institution and as a country, but we will continue to make enquiries on their behalf as and when the Home Office scheme develops, and provide any other avenues of support we can find.”
Ali responded to this statement, saying: “I don’t have really high hopes, but a mere correspondence and checking up on me would go a long way”.