North East wife and Afghan husband feel 'helpless' over fears for family

A teacher from County Durham has told ITV News Tyne Tees she and her Afghan husband feel "helpless" in the North East, as their family are in hiding in Afghanistan.

Ruth Hall, who met her husband whilst teaching in Afghanistan, said her mother-in-law, three sister-in-laws , their husbands and 17 children fled the Taliban from their home village.

It took the family two days to travel to Kabul in two small cars, but shortly after arriving it became clear the Taliban were about to take over the capital city.

She said: "There's been a lot of tension in our house. A lot of torment really. My husband is really struggling to eat or sleep. I've been very emotional about it. I think our big feeling is helplessness really. You see it unfold before your eyes, but you don't really know what to do about it or what really is the best thing to do about it, so it's been a very turbulent and stressful time for us.

"You're constantly on the phone with updates just about where they are, are they safe, you know, trying to find them a different place to live and they're just doing their best to stay indoors and keep their heads down really."

Having taught in the country a decade ago, Ruth said seeing the images coming out of Afghanistan of Taliban fighters in the streets holding guns and other weapons has reopened old wounds.

She explained: "It's terrifying, it's absolutely terrifying. When I was in Afghanistan there was a situation where the western forces accidentally killed some civilian. There was three hours of gunfire outside my house and I was massively traumatised by three hours of gunfire outside my house, so for me that symbol of someone standing there with a gun, it's extremely disturbing."

On Friday, NATO foreign ministers warned the Taliban not to let Afghanistan become a haven for terrorism, as it did 20 years ago.

One of her biggest concerns is the future plight of her nieces, who are all ambitious about building on their education to build careers.

She said: "It's devastating. I mean I'm literally crying everyday, you know and now I think they're just thinking what's it all been for? You know, am I going to be able to go to school? Am I going to be able to go to university? Am I going to be able to get a job? Am I going to be able to leave my house?"

Ruth said they feel "helpless", but are in contact with their local MP about what resettlement options could be provided for their family, if any, and have toyed with the idea of adopting some of the children in order to get them to safety.

Getting emotional, Ruth said: "I mean ideally, in a dream world, you know, tomorrow they get on a plane and the day after they'll be here.... I don't know."

Ruth Hall has withheld the name of her husband to protect the safety of his family in Afghanistan.