Man who fled Afghanistan for Ireland says sister has been abducted

Muhammad Edrees Kharotai has appealed for help for female family members

Muhammad Edrees Kharotai, who lives in Derry,  said his 19-year-old sister, Sama, has been abducted and he has appealed to the British government to help all of the female members of his family leave Afghanistan.

Muhammad Edrees Kharotai, who lives in Derry, said his 19-year-old sister, Sama, has been abducted and he has appealed to the British government to help all of the female members of his family leave Afghanistan.

 

An Afghan man living in Northern Ireland has appealed to the British and Irish governments to save his mother and sisters after his youngest sister was abducted in Afghanistan.

“They’re my only hope. Help me take these innocent women out, my family out from there,” he said.

Muhammad Edrees Kharotai said his 19-year-old sister Sama had been “taken by some individuals at night time, they came and took her, they were taking all the young girls.

“They have no idea who they were, if they were Taliban or Isis.”

Mr Kharotai, who lives in Derry, had to leave Afghanistan after his father, a governmental official, was killed by the Taliban in 2011.

“We were a target in the past … I still remember the fear people had [of the Taliban] and they’re still the same people as they were 20 years ago.”

Since the Taliban takeover his mother and sisters have been living in tents in a refugee camp in Kabul, where as unaccompanied women they are particularly vulnerable.

“They were trying to get a flight to get out of the country but they couldn’t, the crowd was 15, 20,000 people right in front of the airport and my mother was very frightened and my sisters were scared because you could hear the gunshots,” said Mr Kharotai.

At the airport they were separated from another sister and her children: “I don’t know where they are. I have two sisters left, and my mother, and I don’t know what’s going to happen to them in the next minute, in the next hour, tonight, tomorrow.

“The situation I’m in at the moment, it’s not explainable, I can’t explain it in words, because it’s absolutely beyond me,” he says.

“I am just helpless, I can’t do anything.”

He has been in touch with the local MP, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who he says is doing what he can, “but they didn’t hear anything from the Home Office or the British government.

“The only people who can help are here. At least take out my mother and sisters to a safe place.”

Mr Eastwood said he had been trying to contact the UK government to get the family evacuated for several weeks but had received no response.

“To be honest, it’s totally fallen on deaf ears and I know MPs across the water are having the same experience,” he said.

“It’s horrendous. You can imagine how helpless Muhammad feels and even how helpless we feel.

“You have unanswered emails, unanswered phone calls, and it’s thousands and thousands of people have just been left at the whim of the Taliban and Isis because the British and American governments who had invaded and occupied Afghanistan for 20 years have just left very abruptly.

“Now it’s very difficult, but we do know there are others who could be got out if [the UK foreign secretary] Dominic Raab and others used their influence,” Mr Eastwood said.

In a statement, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said Britain and “international partners are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan.

“We have been clear that the Taliban must allow safe passage for those who want to leave,” the spokesperson said.