MPs reveal 'heart-wrenching' battles to get people out of Afghanistan

Afghan refugees disembark at the Torrejon military base as part of the evacuation process in Madrid

MPs have been battling to get people out of Afghanistan. - Credit: AP Photo/Andrea Comas

MPs have revealed "heart-wrenching" battles to get loved ones of Norfolk and Waveney people out of Afghanistan, amid concerns they will be left behind after the Taliban took control of the country.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said he is growing increasingly worried about the safety of two relations of city constituents.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis spoke at a Westminster Hall Debate and addressed the dental care crisis

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has been trying to help three families whose loved ones are in Afghanistan. - Credit: Anthony Kelly

He said the pair, who had been working as translators in Kabul, had told his office they were having to hide, with the Taliban knocking on doors.

Mr Lewis, who served in Afghanistan with the Territorial Army, said: "My staff have been working round the clock to try to help them, but the support they have had from the government has been scandalous.

"The problems started with them getting the documents they needed to get their visas.

"And there were roadblocks stopping them from getting to the airport.

"They are in hiding now, with the Taliban going from door to door and we are very concerned about them."

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Mr Lewis' office is also trying to help the grandchild of a city constituent, who would be entitled to dual citizenship if they could obtain the necessary paperwork.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. - Credit: Archant

And Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has been trying to help three families, including children, who are in Afghanistan.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was trying to help them get out of the country.

Ms Smith said: "These are extremely difficult and heart-wrenching circumstances and my office is in daily contact with the families and the Foreign Office to help them."

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he had been assisting one constituent who had been in Afghanistan, who safely arrived back in the UK this week.

MP Peter Aldous at the Save All Hallows Trust public meeting at Ditchingham Village Hall. PICTURE: J

Waveney MP Peter Aldous. - Credit: Archant

And James Wild, North West Norfolk MP, confirmed he had helped a constituent involved in education and also raised cases with the FCDO and the Home Office after constituents and others had contacted him.

Britain's evacuation effort in Kabul entered its final hours on Friday, with defence secretary Ben Wallace saying around 1,000 Afghans could be left behind.

Airlifts continued on Friday, after a terror attack at Kabul Airport which killed 13 US troops and almost 100 Afghan civilians queuing up to flee the Taliban.

The bombings were believed to have been carried out by the Isis-K affiliate of so-called Islamic State on Thursday.

Nearly 14,000 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan in the past two weeks.

British nationals and Afghan evacuees depart a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton (August 26, 2021)

British nationals and Afghan evacuees depart a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton (August 26, 2021) - Credit: PA

Last week, Ashna Shinwari, 29, who lives in Gas Hill in Norwich, returned to England after flying to Afghanistan for a funeral before the Taliban took over Kabul.

Ashna Shinwari, pictured in Norwich, is unable to get out of Kabul in Afghanistan which was taken over by the Taliban 

Ashna Shinwari - Credit: Contributed

He took three days to get back after he received a call from the embassy instructing him how to get home.

Norfolk County Council is working with district councils to resettle people from Afghanistan.

There are two schemes - the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), for people and their families who supported the military, and the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, which is for other people who are being evacuated from the country.

Under the original ARAP, launched in April, Norfolk expected to welcome a total of 50 individuals, but that number is likely to increase.

Nineteen have arrived so far, a mix of families and individuals.

It is expected that people who have arrived in the UK through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme will arrive in the middle of next month, but it is not yet clear how many will come to Norfolk.

Landlords in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk are being asked to offer homes where whole Afghan refugee families can be housed.

The government will provide money to councils towards the rent for those homes, which are not council housing.

Landlords who can help should email pslt@norwich.gov.uk or call 01603 989444 for the Norwich City Council area or ta@s-norfolk.gov.uk or 01508 533893 for Broadland/South Norfolk council areas.

And County Hall is also appealing for donations to help furnish the homes, including: new mattresses; curtains; dining tables and chairs; small appliances such as toasters and microwaves; fridges; washing machines; cookers; sofas; armchairs; televisions; DVD players; wardrobes and garden tools.

Donations can be made via www.gov.uk/help-refugees

Clothing can also be donated at Alive UK's drop off point in Chantry Place, Norwich.

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