Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Afghan family’s tears of joy as they step into new home after five-month wait

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Caption: Afghan family's tears of joy as they step into new home following six month wait Picture: Burhan Vesal
Burhan Vesal, his wife Narcis and their son, Sepehr, are getting used to their new surroundings in Aberdeen after being evacuated from Afghanistan (Picture: Burhan Vesal)

A former Afghan interpreter and his wife wept as they moved into their new home after a stranger moved by their story offered her flat for free.

Burhan and Narcis Vesal were evacuated with their son from Kabul in the final days of the mass airlift, but then spent five months waiting in hotels to find out if they would be given a permanent home in the UK.

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The family had been stuck in limbo in Crawley before Helga Macfarlane heard about their story and reached out via email, offering the flat she owns 600 miles away in Aberdeen.

Helga was touched by their plight as her mum, Helene, was a Silesian refugee during World War Two who was also an interpreter for the British Army before being given sanctuary in the UK.

Burhan, 34, told VELOXNEWS.com the Home Office had initially turned down the move before the paperwork was finally signed off in the city on Tuesday.

He said: ‘We have made our way from Afghanistan to our new flat in Aberdeen. It’s hard to put into words how it feels to give up all your dreams in Afghanistan and come to a new country to restart your life.

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‘But luckily I have escaped being imprisoned or killed. We feel so lucky and comforted to be here. It’s been a long journey from Afghanistan to Aberdeen, when we stepped inside our flat there were tears in our eyes.’

The family moved in last week after months of uncertainty that go back to Burhan’s time as a battlefield interpreter in Afghanistan, where he served with British forces including the Gurkhas.

Burhan Vesal his wife Narcis and son Sepehr are looking forward to a fresh start in the sanctuary of Aberdeen (PIcture: Burhan Vesal)
Burhan and his family are looking forward to a fresh start in the sanctuary of Aberdeen (Picture: Burhan Vesal)

He feared for his life after the Taliban swept to power in August 2021 and had been in hiding during a four-month wait for an evacuation flight out of Kabul Airport, where chaotic scenes and crowds initially barred the way.

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The family, along with thousands of others who were flown to safety by the UK military, was housed in temporary accommodation in central London and then at the Arora Hotel in Crawley.

Burhan, who had previously spoken to VELOXNEWS.com under anonymity, paid his heartfelt thanks to UK troops as they touched down in Heathrow.

The trio endured disappointment when they were apparently informed by the Home Office that they were being moved to a house in Peterborough, only to be told on the day they travelled to the city that it was not available.

The couple and their six-year-old son, Sepehr, now have a headstart in the UK with the support of Aberdeen City Council and welcoming locals, with Burhan given final approval for the move at a Jobcentre.

The move to Scotland comes amid concern at thousands of Afghan families and individuals who remain in ‘bridging accommodation’ organised by the Home Office, months after the rapid evacuation by UK troops.

’We have finally reached the end of the journey,’ Burhan said.

‘It feels really nice because being in the bridging hotel was not good.

Sepehr plays with Lego as he settles into his new surroundings at a flat in Aberdeen following five months in hotels (Picture: Burhan Vesal)
Sepehr plays with Lego as he settles into his new surroundings at a flat in Aberdeen following five months in hotels (Picture: Burhan Vesal)
Narcis Vesal, shown with son Sepehr, is a qualified doctor and is seeking to learn English so she can work in the UK (Picture: Burhan Vesal)
Narcis Vesal, pictured with Sepehr, is a qualified doctor and is seeking to learn English so she can work in the UK (Picture: Burhan Vesal)

‘There were hundreds of families from everywhere with many different cultures, some of them were polite, some of them were impolite.

‘I was not worried for myself but for my son. Now we’re the lucky ones. We have a new home in a new area we love and we continue our lives in safety.’

Helga wanted to help the family open a new chapter following the fraught and deadly scenes on the ground in Afghanistan during and after the coalition withdrawal, which ended two decades of intervention.

Recognising parallels with her mother’s story, she has opened her home and is not charging rent while Burhan and his wife get on their feet and establish their independence.

‘Helga is an example to the world,’ Burhan said. ‘I’ve never met someone so kind and free-hearted as her. She has shown that there are people in the world who believe in humanity.

‘She has given us a shoulder and helped us to resettle to start our new lives.’

Afghan family's tears of joy as they step into new home following six month wait Picture: Burhan Vesal
Burhan Vesal with his wife and son during their time in Afghanistan before the country fell to the Taliban (Picture: Burhan Vesal/VELOXNEWS.com)
Afghan family's tears of joy as they step into new home following six month wait Picture: Burhan Vesal
Burhan Vesal served with British forces in Helmand Province as an interpreter (Picture: Burhan Vesal)

Burhan is hoping to complete training in security so he can work in the industry while Narcis, a doctor, is planning to learn English so she can continue in her profession.

Their journey north took place a few days before a whistleblower told of chaotic scenes in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office at the height of the resettlement effort.

Raphael Marshall, a junior civil servant, told a Commons committee that thousands of desperate emails from people who believed their lives were in danger went unanswered.

The department told VELOXNEWS.com this week that the UK Government evacuated more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan within a fortnight and is still helping others to leave.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

For more stories like this, check our news page.


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