Afghan interpreter’s anger over son’s visa denial

Sajid and Mena and son
Image caption,The couple, seen here with their daughter, hope to reunite with their son soon

By Davinia Ramos

BBC North West Tonight

An Afghan refugee who was an interpreter for the British Army says he is “angry” after the government denied entry to the UK for his child.

Sajid, a taxi driver in Greater Manchester, said the Home Office believed he could not financially support his three-year-old son Yousef.

He says he lives in fear that the Taliban may kidnap his son who is living with his parents in Afghanistan.

The Home Office said it had contacted the family for more details.

A spokeswoman said: “All applications are considered on evidence provided.”

Sajid moved to the UK in 2016 where he now works in Oldham.

He visited Afghanistan in 2019 when he got married, and his son Yousef was born there.

His wife Mena was given a visa to move to the UK but the Home Office refused entry to their child.

‘Extremely disappointed’

As part of the government’s Afghan citizens resettlement scheme – launched in 2022 – people who helped British forces should be granted priority status.

However, Sajid had settled in the UK under a previous scheme, before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021.

“I’m extremely disappointed by the way I’ve been treated by the Ministry of Defence because I worked for them for over two years,” he said.

“I was thinking that probably the Home Office will accept [Yousef’s] case under special circumstances because I was an interpreter for the armed forces.

“I’m really disappointed and angry at the way they handled this case.”

His wife Mena had a short period to decide whether or not to move to the UK without her son.

“She didn’t want to leave Yousef behind but I told her if you don’t come to the UK right now, then we need to re-apply for your visa.”

They keep in contact with their son, who now lives with his parents, via video calls.

“He doesn’t know who we are – he thinks my dad is his father and my mum is his mother.”

Reunion hopes

However Sajid, who is taking medication for anxiety and depression, fears his son could be kidnapped by the Taliban regime.

“My only worry is that they will use him against me because he’s only a child.”

The couple have since had another child – a daughter named Aqsa – in the UK and hope the whole family can be reunited soon.

“If Yousef comes over here, we will be so happy as a family.”

In August, UK government minister Johnny Mercer, who is responsible for the resettlement scheme, acknowledged some people had been left behind after the Taliban takeover and had still not been brought to safety.

On the second anniversary of the Taliban takeover, he said he was determined to make resettlement schemes “work properly”.

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