A Glasgow taxi driver is stuck abroad after fleeing Afghanistan with his wife and five children amid fear of the Taliban imposing a brutal regime.
Jan Mohammad Ahmadzai, 42, has lived and worked in Scotland for 16 years and was visiting his heavily-pregnant wife and family when the coup took place.
With his British passport, the father-of-five tried to get them all safely evacuated during the Operation Pitting rescue mission but they did not make it.
“They nearly killed my kids, my children.”Jan Mohammad Ahmadzai
While they joined crowds around Kabul Airport they were caught up in the terrifying suicide bomb that killed at least 95 people and wounded 150 others.
“We were just inches away,” he told STV News, “We just got saved because of a big heavy crowd, it was like a human shield.
“We had tears in our eyes, we couldn’t breathe for a few minutes. We had to run away that’s why we left out bags.
“They nearly killed my kids, my children.”
His wife Wakeela had only given birth to their youngest child just days before the bombing.
Mr Ahmadzai said she and their children Wajid, 11, Yousaf, 10, Leena, seven, Sammi, five, and Ishaq, just days old, were unable to sleep for days after the attack.
The bags they lost contained their passports and other documents. Despite putting up notices appealing for them to be found they were never recovered.
The cab driver is desperate to get them safely to Glasgow via the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme.
He told STV News about the crushing crowds that formed at the Baron Hotel next to Kabul Airport and how dangerous it would have been to take his kids among them and after the bombing they were too scared to return.
Then when British and American troops pulled out of the country after the final evacuation flight left, the dad became terrified that his family would be targetted by the Taliban as a “foreign family”.
He remembers thinking: “We are just stranded there’s no help for us anymore… I was hopeless”
He wants his daughter Leena to have the same education as his sons.
“I want her future to be bright,” he said.
Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban will again impose a brutal, repressive government, all but eliminating women’s rights and conducting public executions.
The family went into hiding as he said the Taliban began searching phones looking for foreign emails and contact from the British Foreign Office.
“They could knock our door any moment”, he said.
“I cannot send them back into Afghanistan because they are known as a foreigner family.”Jan Mohammad Ahmadzai
The family could not leave the country legally without the necessary documents but finally Mr Ahmadzai was able to arrange an illegal crossing into Pakistan just days ago where they made contact with friends.
Since then he has been trying to get help from the UK Government to return with his family to Scotland.
“I cannot leave my family in a strange country where the don’t have any status,” he said, “I cannot send them back into Afghanistan because they are known as a foreigner family.”
A British journalist has set up a fundraiser to help relieve the financial strain Mr Ahmadzai is facing having run into debt as he struggles to feed his children while still paying for his Scotstoun flat, bills and car in Glasgow.
If he fails to pay then he said all of his belongings will be disposed of and he will be homeless in the UK before he even arrives.
As a British citizen, he is entitled to Universal Credit but without his UK phone number, he cannot access the system.
A spokesperson for Glasgow Housing Association said: “We’ve been in regular contact with Mr Ahmadzai and will continue to do all we can to support him and his family through this difficult situation.”
Luke Pierce reports from in conflict zones around the world and when he saw he could help he knew he had to.
“Jan’s was one of the families we were trying to assist the problem is he had a seven-day-old baby during Operation Pitting so actually getting to the airport for him was really dangerous”, he said.
“We’ve been trying to work out ways of getting him out. As far as we know he’s had very little assistance from the British Government.
“His family were on the evacuation list to be taken out.”
You can donate to the fundraiser here.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The government has undertaken the UK’s biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history, helping over 15,000 people to safety from Afghanistan. This includes over 700 British nationals and eligible dependants.
“The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme is one of the most generous schemes in our country’s history. It will give up to 20,000 further people at risk a new life in the UK.
“We continue to do all we can to enable British nationals and eligible Afghans to leave the country.”
The Pakistan High Commission has been contacted for comment.
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