School head teacher helps stranded UK family escape Kabul

Ziahe family slept on streets amid Afghanistan chaos after Taliban took control

A primary school head teacher helped to get a British family out of Afghanistan after two of her pupils were stranded in Kabul.

The two children, their mother and their older sister were caught in the chaos after the Taliban took over the city.

Prevented by Taliban guards from reaching a checkpoint for British nationals, the Ziahe family were forced to sleep on the streets amid gunfire in Kabul.

But they finally made it to the airport on Friday before boarding a flight to Dubai, used by the UK military as a stepping stone to Britain.

Amanda Dawson, the head of Mellers Primary School in Nottingham, England, lobbied on the family’s behalf to get them on a rescue flight.

“I’m relieved, and completely exhausted,” she said after the family left Afghanistan.

But she said that other members of the extended family were still in the country and could be in danger from the Taliban.

“Some have already been threatened with beheading once US and UK security forces have left,” she said.

“I’m determined to keep the momentum rolling to ensure those extended family members are brought to safety.”

Lillian Greenwood, the MP for Nottingham South, paid tribute to Ms Dawson’s “incredible support” for the family.

“She interrupted her summer break without a second thought and has worked around the clock to help this family,” she said.

“It' such great news that they are on their way to safety, but sadly I have many more constituents with family at risk in Afghanistan.”

The UK military said on Sunday that seven people had died in the chaos as Afghans and foreign nationals tried to flee Kabul.

Hotel chaos

Taliban fighters are manning checkpoints and blocking access to the airport and the Baron Hotel, where British nationals were advised to go for processing.

The opposition Labour Party said a makeshift camp had sprung up outside the hotel. Families there were struggling to get access to food, water and sanitation.

Ms Dawson said the hotel compound was guarded by Taliban soldiers and that a relative of her pupils was assaulted for trying to get through.

The children slept in the street for at least one night and were stranded in the daytime heat with a dwindling phone battery as they waited to get out of the country.

After getting into the hotel, they were directed to a safe house at the airport before being flown out of Afghanistan.

Evacuees from Afghanistan have to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine under Covid-19 restrictions.

Nato troops are manning part of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to get their nationals, diplomatic staff and Afghan civilian aides out of the country.

Britain’s ambassador in Kabul, Laurie Bristow, said on Sunday that evacuation efforts were gathering pace before an August 31 deadline.

He said that more than 5,000 people had been flown out of Kabul, including 1,000 in the space of 14 hours.

The Taliban signalled on Monday that it would not allow an extension beyond the end of August, when Washington plans to remove the last of its troops.

Updated: August 23rd 2021, 1:31 PM
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