'They were kidnapping and killing people' - Afghan refugee living in Bristol on fleeing Taliban

The refugee, who wishes to remain anonymous, was forced to flee her home without saying goodbye to friends and family. Credit: BPM Media

An Afghan family now living in a Bristol hotel was forced to flee the Taliban in Kabul with one rucksack containing essential food, after fearing for the lives of one of their daughters.

The daughter, who does not want to be named, said: "It was a nightmare, it was really terrible.

"When the Taliban took over, I was in my office and security came in and just said 'leave in five minutes'.

"One of my colleagues gave me a lift home and we were stuck in traffic for five hours as everyone was trying to get home and to the airport - everyone just wanted to escape."

The woman moved to the country with her grandmother, her parents and several siblings. Credit: BPM Meda

She arrived in the UK on a military plane at the end of August with her grandmother, her parents and several siblings - without being able to say goodbye to any friends or other family.

"I know some women who are in Kabul and they are not allowed to go to work," she said.

"We were in great danger of being killed as they [the Taliban] were searching homes, looking for evidence that you had been working for an international organisation.

"They were kidnapping and killing people - it is really dangerous."

When the woman - who is in her 20s and recently-qualified as a GP - heard the Taliban had taken over, she worried about what this would mean for her future. She said: "The entire country is like a prison for me now as I am a woman.”

She added: "I would not be able to do anything, I would just be stuck at home.”

The family are waiting to be moved into permanent housing. Credit: BPM Media

The family moved to Bristol earlier this month. The young woman spoke of how hard it was to leave the country at such short notice where she had dreamed she would be able to build a life, but she feels “really safe” in the UK. 

Her aunts and uncles remain in Afghanistan unable to work or make enough money. She said: "I worry for them, my family there are in danger.

"My cousins are teenage girls and they are not allowed to go to school, so they keep asking me if they can come to the UK with us."

The woman's siblings - who are all aged 16 or above - have been unable to continue with their studies since arriving in the UK, something which she said she worries about.

She now has ambitions to join the NHS. "It was like a dream to be able to get out of that dangerous place," she added. "I want to work for the NHS as this country has welcomed us and helped us at the worst time.

"We also want to serve this country, especially because there is such a shortage of medical staff.

"I really want to be back in my field and be a doctor again."

The refugee said they are all still waiting for all their paperwork to be processed and they have been told they could be living in a hotel for a year, adding at the moment she feels they are just waiting.

"I was always busy in my country, but I could be doing nothing for a year," she added. "You just want to feel useful and try our best to pay back and make the UK proud.

"At the moment we are just stuck, waiting."