Saturday, June 25

Afghan Scholar Chevening Relieved After Evacuation To UK | Afghanistan

A Chevening scholar who came to the UK after being flown from Afghanistan said she is relieved to escape the “hell” of the Taliban government, but is concerned about how the trauma of her ordeal will affect her studies.

Afsana Hamidy, 26, arrived at Birmingham airport on Wednesday and will be studying for a master’s degree in inclusive education at the University of Roehampton in London. “I have worked for almost two years to get this scholarship. This is the only thing that has given me hope for the future, “he said. “But I’m not sure how my studies will go with the mental situation that I have right now. It is not easy to forget what happened overnight.

“I have emotion in my heart but I am nervous for my country, my friends and all the people I left behind. I have a feeling of punishment for myself because I went to a richer and safer country, but I couldn’t help others. “

There are 35 Afghan academics to be evacuated who are part of the Chevening program, which funds one-year master’s degrees at UK universities.

There are still believed to be some trapped in Kabul, including one who said he was disappointed by the lack of assistance from the UK. “The British could have done more to help organize transport to the airport,” he said. “As a Chevening scholar, they promised to evacuate us, but they have gone so alone through this difficult time.”

He is in hiding and said he felt his life was now at risk. He posted video from security cameras at his home showing the Taliban making multiple visits to the home. “They are looking for me because they believe that I promoted the UK culture and agendas, and that I am their empowered person.”

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He said that the British embassy had given him a relocation pass, but that he had not been able to approach the airport gate outside the Baron Hotel on Wednesday, and decided to stay home the next day because he did not want to expose his children to the scenes of chaos again.

After the two suicide bombings outside the Kabul airport on Thursday, one near the Baron hotel, he said he was relieved to have avoided the area.

The Foreign Office blocked Chevening students from accepting their UK government sponsored scholarships earlier this month, saying they would not be able to process their visas on time. Hamidy said the decision left her feeling “traumatized and stressed.” She said she feared being trapped in Afghanistan and being targeted by the Taliban because of their opposition to women’s education.

“When the Taliban took over the country it was like hell. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t make decisions. All I could think about was how I would get through the gates, ”he said.

When she finally got to the airport, she was evacuated in a military plane with between 600 and 700 other people. “We were all sitting on the floor of the plane, so it was too crowded, too uncomfortable. As I was sitting on the plane, I was thinking that I missed the moment when I could travel humanly, not like this, ”she said.

After arriving in the UK, she was transferred to a nearby hotel to be quarantined for 10 days under Covid rules, and said she was overwhelmed by the messages of support she received from the public.

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“I did not imagine that the people of the UK would receive me so warmly. I was scared, I didn’t know how I would feel. Will the UK become my home, my second country or not? “She said.” But since yesterday, the messages that I have received from all of you, especially from the people on Twitter, your warm welcome and your kind attitudes make this somehow feel like home.

“But I do worry about my friends, my colleagues, the world in which I have lived for a long time. Their lives are in danger, so I am nervous about them and their future, ”she said, adding that she was particularly concerned about the girls and the families that the women supported financially. “If they are not allowed to continue working, then I really don’t know what will happen.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We have been helping Afghan scholars from Chevening this year to leave the country and they have started arriving in the UK.”

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