Afghan refugee speaks out about UK anti refugee law
RLS' Shamim Sarabi has been talking to other people in the Afghan refugee community to get their reflections on recent anti-refugee laws in the UK.
Below is one of many stories.
What is my crime?
Ahmad’s escape from the Taliban
Ahmad, (not his real name), along with his 7 year old sister, had no choice but to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban massacred 14 members of his family, including his parents and siblings. Hidden in the back of a cab, he was telling his sister: “If you keep quiet and count one to hundred, I will give you a lollipop. One…two…three.”
He can’t remember how he reached the UK, but he knew he must take his little sister somewhere safe and he must find his grandma in Manchester.
“Our journey was rough, my sister was a kid, she was crying and asking for my mother. I was hopeless and frustrated, I had no choice but to continue for my sister at least.” Ahmad says.
Four years later, Ahmad is a primary school teacher serving his community. He and his sister call the UK their second home. During the Covid 19 pandemic he helped at-risk members of his community by voluntarily shopping for their groceries. He loves his job and his community.
The anti-refugee law
Ahmad was granted refugee status before the UK’s Nationality and Borders Act was introduced. He says: “when I read the bill, I was feeling numbed for a full hour. I could not believe it.”
“What is our crime that we are being punished in one way or another? My whole family was killed because of being from the Hazara ethnic minority. And now the new Bill is telling me that I am a second citizen with limited rights. It is frightening and disappointing. I feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere, and belonging to nowhere.”
“I thought the UK is my home and my destiny. I wish to retire in this country as a proud teacher.”
The new Nationality and Borders Act will particularly put Afghan refugees, like Ahmad and his sister, in danger. Neighbouring countries closed their borders to Afghans without passports and the embassies shut their doors while thousands of Afghans were desperately seeking protection from Taliban persecution. This leaves people with little choice but to take irregular routes. The new law will now treat them as criminals.
Hundreds, including women and children, were arrested, tortured, and killed by the Taliban after they seized power.
Ahmad believes the new law makes the vulnerable more vulnerable. It criminalises those who seek sanctuary for using the irregular routes, regardless of what dangers they are escaping, while the regular routes do not exist for many of them. They face prosecution instead of protection.
We’ll continue to fight to make sure that people fleeing persecution and violence can find the sanctuary and safety that they deserve. If you would like to make a donation, you can here.