A former translator has told Sky News about escaping from Afghanistan to the UK as the Taliban took over the country.
Ziaullah Omer was an interpreter in Helmand province for the British forces from 2009 to 2010, where he translated Taliban radio communications.
He then served as a firefighter with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at Kabul Airport for seven years at the same time as working as an administrative assistant and liaison officer.
After moving between homes to avoid the Taliban, Mr Omer was able to escape Afghanistan last Wednesday on a commercial flight organised by the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
He arrived with his wife and five children aged three to 10 and is now in a quarantine hotel in Manchester after his wife tested positive for COVID, but they will be resettled in London. His flight and accommodation is being paid for by the IOM.
Mr Omer said he is extremely grateful to the British government for granting him a six-month visa, soon to be followed by a five-year refugee visa, but he is worried about the family and friends he left behind.
Mr Omer told Sky News: “I received a call today from my family, they were saying the Taliban are entering each room, each house, looking for the people who worked for the multinational forces, the UK or US.
“If they find them they will kill them, even if they are just family – so it’s dangerous for them as well.”
His son was killed by the Taliban in 2018 and his father in 2019.
Now, he said some friends had their translator jobs terminated by coalition forces “for minor reasons” so they have been refused admission to the UK.
“I’m very worried about those people left behind, it is a very, very scary situation now in Afghanistan,” he said.
“They’ve told me the Taliban are doing bad things in our village in Kabul province.
“The Taliban can’t be trusted because they are saying on the television there will be no danger for people who worked for the coalition forces, but just yesterday they were going room to room looking for them.”
Mr Omer hopes to become a firefighter or work in administration once he’s resettled in London, while his wife wants to learn tailoring or hair and beauty.
The British government has outlined plans to allow around 20,000 Afghan refugees into the UK.
According to the Home Office, around 5,000 former Afghan staff and family members are likely to be eligible for resettlement by the end of this year under a scheme for those previously employed by British forces.
On top of that, the government has committed to relocate a further 5,000 Afghan civilians in the next 12 months through the new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme.
Up to 15,000 more Afghans could be allowed to settle in the UK in the years ahead.
The new scheme will be modelled on the system introduced for Syrian refugees in 2015.