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  • Writer's picturejoeseaton2

'Jamil' arrives in the UK, having survived Taliban hostility

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Yesterday another Afghan British Council teacher arrived in the UK. 'Jamil' is the fourth teacher to arrive in Britain under the UK Government’s ACRS scheme.

Jamil has been the victim of actual Taliban violence in Afghanistan, as a direct result of his work for the British Council. The fact that he has at last been relocated to safety is encouraging news, albeit over a year and a half late.

Jamil should never have been left in danger in Afghanistan. His colleagues who worked at the British Council office in Kabul were all relocated prior to or during Operation Pitting (August 2021) but he was left behind, along with almost all of the other teachers the British Council had employed to deliver their programmes across Afghanistan.

This exclusion was extremely unfair for Jamil, who had worked for the British Council for over 7 years, firstly as an English Resource Centre Manager, and then as a Master Trainer on the DfID-funded ‘English for Afghans’ programme. All of his work was carried out in his home province, a strict southern province, well known as a Taliban heartland.

Jamil first joined the British Council in 2013 as the manager of the ‘English Resource Centre’ (ERC) in his province. This ERC was attacked by the Taliban in 2015. The picture (right) shows him standing in the ERC, with the walls peppered with bullet holes. While there were no fatalities as a result of this Taliban attack, it is a clear indication of their feelings towards the British Council. Indeed, the attack 4 years

earlier on the British Council compound in Kabul resulted in 17 fatalities (2011).

In 2017 Jamil switched roles, moving from ERC Manager to ‘English for Afghans’ Master Trainer. In his new role he had to deliver modules on English, Teacher Training and UK-Values, including Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI). ‘UK-Values’ are a difficult and dangerous subject area to teach anywhere in Afghanistan, and especially so in the strict Southern province he was located in.

Last year (September 2022), while waiting for news on his ACRS application, Jamil was attacked in his home province while trying to pass a checkpoint manned by Taliban guards. One of the guards recognised him as a former British Council teacher and loudly alerted the other guards at the checkpoint, who proceeded to beat him violently.

The fact he was recognised is not surprising. In Afghanistan, communities are tight-knit, and people tend to be aware of other people’s business. Jamil had been employed fulltime by the British Council for 7 years, in public facing, highly visible roles. It was impossible for him to remain invisible or anonymous, and so when the Taliban took power, and he was left behind by the UK Government/ British Council, he wisely went into hiding. However, he was eventually required to pass a checkpoint, at which point the violent episode ensued. The guards attacked him, broke his shoulder, struck him with their rifle butts and knocked him unconscious. He woke up concussed in hospital, but managed to escape. As Taliban officers guard and monitor the hospitals, his escape was essential for his survival and freedom. After fleeing the hospital he knew he could not return home, and so went further into hiding, recovering in secret at a relative's house

He then waited a further 7 months, before finally being relocated to the UK.

For someone who worked fulltime for the British Council for 7 years, in such a hostile environment, it is shocking that he was left behind in the first place. He was eligible for the ARAP scheme form the time of it’s launch in April 2021, but was not informed about the scheme by the British Council, or assisted in completing his application, and so was rejected. After the country fell to the Taliban, he went into hiding, and now, at last, has been safely relocated to the UK.

He is by no means the only former British Council teacher to have suffered violence at the hands of the Taliban. Like him, I’m very pleased he has at last made it to safety, and, like him, I hope the UK Government ensures the other British council teachers still in hiding in Afghanistan get relocated to the UK as soon as possible.

The teachers are at risk as a direct result of their work for us. They were all eligible for relocation back in April 2021 and their exclusion from the ARAP scheme was unjust and immoral. This travesty urgently needs to be addressed, and all the remaining British Council teachers need to be brought to safety.

(*Names changed for security reasons)

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