'We are suffering': Afghan teacher 'abandoned' by British Council says there's still no support

5 March 2023, 19:13 | Updated: 5 March 2023, 19:33

Teacher Jawid who was abandoned from the ARAP scheme

By Abbie Reynolds

Teacher Jawid says he has been "imprisoned" in Afghanistan by the British Council after they "unfairly" left him and his colleagues under Taliban rule despite their work on a UK foreign policy.

In February 2023 teacher Jawid - who is using an alias - told Sangita Myska he felt "betrayed" by the British Council.

Joseph Seaton, who worked with teachers in Afghanistan for four years, explained the role they played within the British Council:

"The British Council has often said 'Oh they were just teachers', but their role was much more integral to the British Government's effort in Afghanistan."

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Mr Seaton said while he worked for the British Council the foreign policy objective was to "counter violent extremism" and the teachers were not only employed to teach English but also to teach "UK values" such as "diversity" and "inclusivity".

He said the teachers were the "front line of the UK foreign policy".

Jawid said: "I was proud to work with the British Council... I was helping women to learn and so I took the risk."

Joseph Seaton said that office colleagues and managers working on the policy were safely relocated to the UK after the 2021 Taliban offensive but the "faces" of the project were "unfairly" left behind.

The last time Sangita and the teacher - who is still in Afghanistan - spoke he sent a message directly to the UK Home Office: "Are you rescuing us?"

Sangita told Jawid that LBC would contact the Home Office directly for an update. On Sunday, Sangita told listeners: "Three weeks on, we finally get some statements."

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She read out a few lines of the Foreign Office statement before going on to the British Council's statement.

The statement read: "Since early 2021 we have done everything we can to help our colleagues to leave Afghanistan, should they wish to do so.

"Really?" Sangita questioned, unconvinced.

She read on: "Many of them are now in the UK but a large number still remain in Afghanistan - too right they do - our former colleagues have told us that they are living in increasingly difficult circumstances and the situation in the country continues to deteriorate.

"We are incredibly concerned for them and their family's welfare and well-being. Relocation schemes are being run by the UK Government, blah blah."

"Listen," Sangita said unimpressed, "I can't even be bothered with the rest of it. You know how it goes."

Sangita Myska fumes at the British Council's lack of support for the teachers stuck in Afghanistan.

Jawid spoke to Sangita again and said that he is still "living in hiding".

In response to the statements, the teacher said: "We haven't heard anything positive since the last time we spoke three weeks ago. None of these things have brought change to our situation, we are living in hiding. Every day we are suffering."

He told Sangita that he and others "stuck" in Afghanistan can't go out freely for fear of being "detained tortured or killed".

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The teacher said the only support received has been "verbal support": "Verbal support is nothing for us in this situation," he told Sangita.

Mr Seaton who has founded 'At Risk Teachers', which supports former British Council teachers stuck in Afghanistan, said he feels "frustrated" by the British Council's lack of support for people like Jawid.

He said that teachers left in Afghanistan are "publically recognisable" and have therefore experienced "threats of blackmail and physical violence".