Elhan Afzal is a photojournalist and storyteller supported by our Cross Borders mentoring programme. He is currently living in Glasgow after fleeing Afghanistan. In this article, he speaks with fellow Afghans about their experience of being resettled in the UK.
Afghans in Scotland: “Life here is not getting better for us”
Once again another empire has fallen into a grave in the graveyard of Afghanistan. United States armed forces and the British Army failed in Afghanistan after fighting for more than 20 years. The last soldier, Christopher Donahue, left Afghanistan during the United States’ withdrawal on 30 August 2021.
The city of Zarang, in the district of Nimruz, was the first provincial capital which fell into Taliban hands. They started taking control of provinces back to back, and Kabul was the last largest city which Taliban took control of. Embassies were emptied, offices where foreigners worked were closed, NGOs were temporary closed.
Between 14 and 31 August 2021, United States Armed Forces and the British Army evacuated approximately 123,000 Afghans via Kabul International Airport (known as Hamid Karzai International Airport), including US citizens, SIV (special immigration visa), United Kingdom citizens, and those who served British government in past 20 years in Afghanistan.
The United Kingdom government said that approximately more than 15000 Afghans were moved to the country from Afghanistan in the chaos at Kabul in August 2021. Since then, 7000 more Afghans have been relocated, including British nationals.
The Home Office recently announced that 9000 Afghans have been moved to their permanent address or are waiting to be moved in. Over 8000 are still living in temporary accommodation in hotels. Half of them are kids.
Ghulam Jan Qadery, 44y, a British National who was in Kabul when Taliban took control of Kabul, flew with his family during the chaos from Kabul International Airport to UK. He is currently living in temporary accommodation, a hotel in Aberdeen. He shares his experience of facing the Taliban:
After the collapse of previous government in Afghanistan we were informed by FCDO office to find our way through baron hotel for possible evacuation. The security situation on the way to the airport was the most difficult and shocking moment which I will never forget in my life. The Taliban were everywhere with their guns pointing at our kids, women. They were even shooting people right in front of us.
During our conversation, Ghulam explained the problems which he and his family have faced in the past 2 years staying at the hotel.
It was a really bad experience since the chaos happened in Kabul. That’s even worse since two years we are staying in this hotel but the Home office wasn’t able to find us permanent accommodation. They must provide permanent accommodation for the Afghan who stayed in Hotels for almost two years, which is a long time. We can’t take it anymore. The hotel environment is not suitable for families specifically if they have kids. There are lots of noises and so overcrowded for families which make it difficult for us to live.
Hamida Hussaini, 27y, left Afghanistan and travelled to Pakistan. She then moved to UK, and is currently living in Glasgow with her husband and son. She was an employee of the British government in Afghanistan.
It was really annoying situation to experience Taliban, but luckily we got the chance to be moved here by UK government and we are very happy, but life here is not getting better for us, there are many barriers which we have, because of them the time is hard on us.
The Great Empire of the United Kingdom is all set to make Afghan refugees homeless. Earlier this year, Afghan refugees received an official letter from the Home Office telling them to leave hotels in the coming three months. The deadline for many was August.
If they have nowhere to go, they will be on the streets.
Words and photographs by Elhan Afzal.AfghanistanArts and culture