Afghan couple living in UK fear family members left in Kabul could die

‘We’re just waiting to be told our family has been killed’: Young Afghan couple living in Manchester say they feel ‘helpless’ as relatives in Kabul go into hiding over fears they could be targeted by Taliban

  • Nahida Abasi and Safiullah Abdullahi fear for family members stranded in Kabul
  • Abdullahi, 30, lives with his wife and two young children in Hulme, Manchester
  • Female family members are forced into hiding as they fear Taliban backlash 
  • Meanwhile, any relatives with links to US or Afghan governments have also fled 

A young Afghan couple living in the United Kingdom say they fear their families left stranded in Kabul could be killed by the Taliban at any moment.

Nahida Abasi, 26, and Safiullah Abdullahi, 30, say they ‘feel helpless’ as they watch the events unfold in their homeland from Manchester – nearly 5,000 miles away.

The couple, who live in Hulme with their two young children, are especially worried for the safety of family members – some of whom have links to the Afghan or US governments.

A number of Safiullah’s female family members have also been forced into hiding as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in recent weeks.

Women were filmed reaching their hands through iron railings towards US troops while screaming ‘the Taliban are coming’ in footage being circulated on Afghan social media accounts this morning. 

Reports from last week suggested the militants were going door-to-door, rounding up those who had worked with the Afghan armed forces or government. 

Nahida Abasi, 26, (right) and Safiullah Abdullahi, 30, say they fear for their parents who remain in Kabul after it fell to the Taliban

The news comes as the Ministry of Defence confirmed seven Afghan civilians died in the chaos outside Kabul airport over the weekend, with at least 20 killed in the past week. 

Safiullah says that after Kabul fell to the Taliban, his male relatives were forced from their homes so they could be searched for government documents.

‘We are really worried about them, especially the female members of my family,’ he explained.

‘They had an amazing and bright life before the Taliban arrived.

‘They used to receive threats before they came, but it got worse when they took over the country.

‘My father had to leave his job or get killed, my sister had to do the same, but my eldest brother is not giving up.’

Evacuations have been underway in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country on August 13 after American troops were pulled from the country

Thousands of Afghans could be left behind in Kabul as ministers push to extend the deadline for the last British evacuation flight beyond Tuesday. Pictured: British citizens catching a flight earlier this week

After sleeping on the streets of Kabul for several days, Safiullah says his male relatives have since returned home but have been threatened at gunpoint and asked to reveal where the women are.

The Taliban have now left the house, says Safiullah, but have promised to return.

Safiullah and Nahida, 26, now fear their loved ones ‘could be killed at any time’.

‘We are really scared,’ said Nahida.

‘We’re just waiting for someone to tell us our family has been killed.

‘We have been speaking to them to make sure they are okay, but we just feel helpless. There is nothing we can do for them.’

The couple were both born in Afghanistan and went to visit relatives in the country last November.

At the time, they said the country seemed ‘fine’. 

‘It’s all changed so fast,’ said Nahida, who recently completed a psychology degree through the Open University.

‘I just can’t believe it.

‘You don’t even know what could happen next month, who will be alive and who won’t.

‘We have actually said goodbye to most of our family members and told them to forgive us if we have ever done anything to hurt them.’

Nahida and Safiullah say they fear their two-year-old son, Umar, and 11-month-old daugter, Hana, may never see their grandparents again.

There are fears that the 1,000 UK troops taking part in Britain’s rescue operation will have to pull out when America’s remaining group of 6,000 leave, due to a lack of air support. Pictured: Evacuees from Afghanistan as they arrive in an Airbus A400 transport aircraft of the German Air Force Luftwaffe in Tashkent, Uzbekista

Both have been constantly checking for updates on the situation in their homeland, and say the stress has taken its toll.

‘Everything I see on the internet, I just cry and cry,’ explained Nahida.

‘My husband can’t concentrate when he goes to work.

‘Our bodies are in the UK, but our mind and everything else is over there right now.’

‘Being away from them is the hardest thing.’

The couple have contacted Lucy Powell, the MP for Manchester Central, who has written to the Home Office to share their concerns. 

Last week, the UK government announced plans to resettle refugees, focusing on women, girls and those facing persecution as some 20,000 are granted the right to live in the UK under a new scheme – with 5,000 expected in the first year.

Meanwhile, a separate programme designed to protect Afghan translators and other workers who were employed by British forces is now expected to cover around 10,000, up from the 5,000 previously suggested. 

Afghan families enter into Pakistan through a border crossing point in Chaman, Pakistan

Afghan nationals arrive in Pakistan through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman today

But Nahida and Safiullah believe the government should be doing more to help at-risk relatives of UK residents.

‘This is the time we need them the most,’ said Nahida.

‘The government has announced a scheme, but anything can happen overnight in Afghanistan.

‘We are scared they will leave it too late. We could go to sleep and wake up in the morning to find out our family members are dead.’

The UK wants to double its Kabul airlift numbers to 12,000 this week as Boris Johnson pleads with Joe Biden to delay the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

As the desperate evacuation continues, the PM will use a virtual meeting of world leaders tomorrow to push for more time to save people from the clutches of the Taliban – something the US president has so far refused to commit to.

Nearly 6,000 Britons, Afghan staff and their families have now been airlifted out by the RAF – but there are plans to fly out a further 6,000 this week.

Defence minister James Heappey said this morning that 1,800 eligible citizens and 2,275 local allies had been identified, but more were coming forward all the time.

‘We will get out as many as we possibly can,’ he told Sky news.

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