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‘My dad was granted UK resettlement but was left behind in Kabul’

Jamal Barak was an interpreter with the British Army for eight years, and his father, Shista Gul, worked as a gardener on the military base in Helmand Province

Jamal Barak, who worked as an interpreter for the British Army for eight years

The son of an Afghan man who served with the British military has spoken of his anguish at his father being ‘left behind’ in Kabul.

Jamal Barak is an Afghan citizen who came to Coventry six years ago on the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme.

He was an interpreter with the British Army for eight years, and his father, Shista Gul, worked as a gardener on the military base in Helmand Province, Coventry Live reports.

Last month, it emerged Mr Barak feared for his father’s safety, after his application to seek refuge in the UK was rejected by the Ministry of Defence for not having “sufficient enough evidence.”

The family’s case was subsequently raised in Parliament by Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, and Mr Barak’s father was then granted UK resettlement on August 23.

Shista Gul worked as a gardener for the British army in the military compound in Helmand Province for seven years

Once Mr Barak’s father heard the good news of being granted resettlement, he and the family packed up their belongings and made the 14-hour journey from Helmand Province to Kabul airport.

But chaos awaited, and despite having eligible papers to come to the UK, the family could not make it through the gates of Kabul airport.

They spent a total of four days trying to show officials their paperwork and board a plane to safety.

The last UK plane evacuating people from Afghanistan took off on Saturday with Boris Johnson saying that the “overwhelming majority” of those eligible to come to the UK had been evacuated.

But that did not include Mr Barak’s father and his family, who despite being eligible to come to the UK, were left behind in Kabul.

The evacuation centre has now closed, and Mr Barak’s family are currently in hiding, fearing for their lives until they can find a safe route out of the country.

Jamal Barak came to Coventry under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy

Mr Barak said: “It’s got more worse than before. About 1,100 people were left behind when the evacuation centre was closed, so my father has still got the eligibility, but has been left behind with no flights.

“Now there are loads of Government officials telling people that these people will be evacuated from a third country that could be probably Pakistan or other countries – we don’t know yet.”

His father was a gardener on the military base in Helmand Province and won many awards.

Mr Barak said his father’s goal was always to make beautiful surroundings in the desert for soldiers living away from home.

After being shot at twice by the Taliban while out on a mission with British troops, Mr Barak himself fled to Coventry in 2015, and says he will not rest until his father and their family lands on British soil.

Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, said: “I can only imagine the pain and anguish that Jamal and everyone with loved ones in danger in Afghanistan are going through right now. To have family members living in fear of their lives is horrific.

“I’ve been doing everything I can to secure safe passage for constituents and constituents’ family members, including repeatedly raising cases with government departments and highlighting their plight in Parliament. Some constituents have safely made it home, but too many people – like Jamal’s family – are still in grave danger.

“The UK government and its past military intervention in Afghanistan means it shares responsibility for what’s happening in the country. It must provide more support for Jamal’s family and everyone forced to flee. That means extending the Afghan resettlement scheme and welcoming refugees to Britain.”

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