Former BBC employee trapped in Afghanistan criticises the corporation for not helping him escape

An Afghan who previously worked for the BBC has criticised the corporation for not helping him escape as he remains in hiding with his family from the Taliban.

Abdullah, whose name has been changed for his security, described how he has been left fearing for his life after the Taliban sent him death threats and raided his abandoned home.

The former BBC employee, who said his country is currently the ‘worst place in the world’ to be a journalist, criticised his former company for not helping him escape, adding that he had thought the organisation was ‘family’.

He said he contacted colleagues at the BBC for help but was told they did not have a plan to evacuate former staff members ‘at present’. 

Abdullah, who seeks evacuation to the UK with his wife and baby, said: ‘It is, right now, the worst place in the world to be a journalist. 

The former BBC employee described how he has been left fearing for his life after the Taliban sent him death threats and raided his abandoned home

The former BBC employee described how he has been left fearing for his life after the Taliban sent him death threats and raided his abandoned home

The former BBC employee described how he has been left fearing for his life after the Taliban sent him death threats and raided his abandoned home

‘People that work with foreign media outlets are labelled as spies (working with) Westerners.

‘If you came to a Taliban fighter and told them you are a journalist and you work with an international organisation I am 100 per cent sure you will be directly shot in the head.

‘(Even) friends from local TV networks… they keep texting me, saying they’ve even been beaten by the Taliban for just carrying a camera.’     

Until a few years ago Abdullah, who is in his 30s, had worked for the broadcaster for half a decade but away from the BBC, he has also presented stories on western TV channels.

He also worked as a social activist championing women, children and education, and been a translator for UK and US armed forces.

It is hoped the latter may help him to qualify for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) from the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

He may also be eligible for the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme (ACRS) as a vulnerable person, due to his work as a journalist, coupled with being a part of the Tajik and Shia ethnic and religious minorities.

However, all of these factors have also made him more of a target for the Taliban.

‘This situation is really worrying. I don’t know, maybe today, or tomorrow, or the next day I would be killed,’ he added.

Passengers evacuated from Afghanistan disembark from a British Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus after landing at RAF Brize Norton station

Passengers evacuated from Afghanistan disembark from a British Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus after landing at RAF Brize Norton station

Passengers evacuated from Afghanistan disembark from a British Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus after landing at RAF Brize Norton station

Families evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, wait to board a bus after they arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport

Families evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, wait to board a bus after they arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport

Families evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, wait to board a bus after they arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport

Thousands of Afghans have been evacuated to the US from Kabul airport after the Taliban took over the country

Thousands of Afghans have been evacuated to the US from Kabul airport after the Taliban took over the country

Thousands of Afghans have been evacuated to the US from Kabul airport after the Taliban took over the country 

‘I have a baby girl… I want her to grow up somewhere that she could learn more, she could be open-minded.’

Abdullah is calling on the UK government to evacuate him with his family, along with all others who are eligible.

He said he contacted colleagues at the BBC for help but was told they did not have a plan to evacuate former staff members ‘at present’.

‘(They said) our priority is the current BBC staff members,’ Abdullah said.

‘I feel really regretful about what they replied to me… every moment is a danger, our life is at risk.

‘The BBC should do (me) a favour, should help me out from this misery… from the current calamity.

‘I thought the BBC was part of my family, that’s why I worked enthusiastically with them… we gave everything to the BBC.’    

Abdullah also commended his time working with the British broadcaster, adding it had ‘provided us with everything’.

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘The BBC has been working around the clock with governments, the military and expert teams to find options for evacuating colleagues and their immediate families from Afghanistan.

Members of the British armed forces 16 Air Assault Brigade walk to the air terminal after departing a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire

Members of the British armed forces 16 Air Assault Brigade walk to the air terminal after departing a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire

Members of the British armed forces 16 Air Assault Brigade walk to the air terminal after departing a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire

‘We have so far managed to successfully evacuate several hundred people to the UK and we are doing all we can to ensure the safety of staff and their families who currently remain in the country whilst we continue to explore all other options.

‘We have every sympathy with former staff but we regret we are not in a position to extend our direct support to them.’ 

Last night it emerged that British officials had opened talks with the Taliban about getting UK citizens and allies out of Afghanistan.

Special envoy Sir Simon Gass, the chair or the Joint Intelligence Committee, met senior representatives of the group in Qatar to try to secure safe passage for those left behind. 

It came as the Home Office said around 10,000 refugees from Afghanistan who risked their lives to help British forces would be allowed to live and work indefinitely in the UK.

The talks, which marks a significant moment for the UK, come after Dominic Raab said the number of British nationals left behind in Afghanistan is in the ‘low hundreds’.  

Link hienalouca.com

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