'I won't leave my wife to die alone': British father refuses to flee Afghanistan

15 August 2021, 16:52

The Afghan Army has crumbled in the face of the Taliban's rapid advance
The Afghan Army has crumbled in the face of the Taliban's rapid advance. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A British father is refusing to leave Afghanistan because it would mean his wife being "all alone to die".

The 42-year-old, who asked to be referred to as Omed, says he does not want to join the scramble for flights out of Kabul to get to safety even though he could be at risk of attack.

Omed said he is hiding at home in the capital and fears his British citizenship and work on US bases will make him a target if the Taliban begin reprisals.

The militants have insisted that will not be the case but that claim has been met with scepticism.

He has two young children who possess British nationality but his wife could not get a visa to go to the UK.

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Omed is now considering trying to move to with relatives in an area where he is not known before possibly attempting to escape to a neighbouring country.

"If I fly back to the UK, how can I leave my wife all alone to die?" he told the PA news agency.

"As soon as they come to Kabul - obviously people know each other: neighbours, businesses and everything - they would come and if they don't find me obviously my wife would be there.

"I cannot leave her - whatever happens, I would like to be with her."

The Taliban have made rapid gains since US and British forces withdrew from Afghanistan, capturing the bulk of the country and all major cities except the capital, Kabul.

The group has now entered Kabul and the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has reportedly fled the country. There are now reports of the Taliban preparing to take over the governance of the country from the established authorities.

Omed was born in Afghanistan but arrived in the UK in 2001 as an asylum seeker before being granted British citizenship.

He returned 12 years later to begin working at a company that drills water wells. He has enough money to support his family if they went to the UK but he has been told his wife cannot get a visa.

The British national has only been able to speak to someone at the UK embassy once, two weeks ago, but his wife does not have special circumstances to allow a visa to be granted, he was told.

Omed went to the embassy on Sunday but found it had been evacuated overnight.

He said: "They should at least show compassion because already they are taking embassy staff back to the UK.

"They might have had room to consider people who have Afghan wives and are able to support them back in the UK. It's an emergency."

Omed added: "I'm really scared but I'm trying to, in front of (my family), to be calm and show that nothing will happen.

"If I show my feelings, what's inside, to them probably they will start screaming.

"But deep down I know it's not as easy as I'm trying to show them.

"It's really scary because being a British national is one and working in the US army bases is a second danger for me."