BC urges staff in Afghanistan to contact UK gov
A number of former employees of the British Council in Afghanistan have relocated to the UK under the ministry of defence’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme, but the international cultural and educational organisation is urging others still in the country to contact UK authorities.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4’s World at One, a former British Council employee still in Afghanistan said there is a risk to his life and he is yet to hear back following his application to the scheme a month ago.
“Everyone knows who I was and who I was working with. In that time, I knew that I was not able to visit my village because there were a lot of insurgents… and by the words of them, they say, we were supporting infidels and we are spying for them and things like that,” he said.
The individual – not named in order to protect his identity – has not received either a commitment letter or a promise having applied to ARAP.
“I feel worrisom. I feel very under pressure,” he said.
“If I lose my life, that’s not a problem but I have three daughters and one wife and I have no one else to support them”
“If you put yourself in my shoes, how do you think? How would you think? The Taliban are going around our home, going everywhere. And I have already received some notifications, some warnings from them.
“I have cried a lot. I don’t cry because I lost my salary or other things. But I cry for my family. I don’t care about myself. If I lose my life, that’s not a problem but I have three daughters and one wife and I have no one else to support them. And if I die who will be there to support them? I am quite sure that the people that I know who work with the British Council, everyone is in the same kind of situation.”
The British Council said the safety of all those involved in its work is of “utmost concern”.
“A number of current and former colleagues have been successful under the ARAP scheme, which is managed by the ministry of defence in the UK, and have been relocated from Afghanistan to the UK,” a spokesperson told The PIE.
“While the British Council is not involved in the ARAP decision making process, we are working closely with the ministry of defence to explore every possible avenue of support available to ensure that ARAP applications of all former and current colleagues receive the fullest consideration possible and are expedited.”
The British Council was attacked in 2011 by the Taliban. More than 100,000 people have now signed a petition urging the UK government to assist those who have been employed by the British Council in the country.
Anyone involved with British Council’s work in the country should contact the new Afghan Threat and Risk Evaluation Unit in the British Embassy Kabul, as set out within the guidance for the ARAP scheme, it added.
“We have deep concern not only for our colleagues and those we have worked with over the last 20 years, but for all the people of Afghanistan.”