LONDON: Dozens of Afghans who worked for the British Council as teachers in Afghanistan’s Helmand province are still in hiding and remain “terrified of reprisals.”
Roughly 100 ex-British Council staff are still in Afghanistan, and have so far been denied the right to come to Britain, the BBC reported.
“We are all sitting inside, like in prison,” one told the BBC, while another said they were now running out of money.
The British Council ran schools giving English language lessons and teaching British values in schools across Helmand province, the UK’s primary theater during NATO’s 20-year occupation.
Many of those still in Afghanistan have been in hiding since the Taliban takeover in August last year.
The British Council is a public body that works around the world to promote cultural and educational links. It said the risk its former staff now face is “gravely evident.”
“We know our former colleagues are living in increasingly desperate circumstances, as the situation in the country continues to deteriorate,” said Scott McDonald, the British Council's chief executive. He described the teachers as “the face of the UK in Afghanistan.”
One former teacher told the BBC: “We are really depressed.”
She has a young daughter who begs to be allowed outside.
“We are hiding and we cannot go out, we have to stay inside our house,” she said. “We move from place-to-place when we hear the Taliban are coming for searches.”
Another teacher described going out of the house only every few weeks in disguise.
The British government has faced widespread criticism for the slow introduction of a promised scheme to resettle vulnerable Afghans and Britain’s allies from Afghanistan.
Last week though, the teachers were told they can now apply for the new Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, which the Foreign Office said will bring thousands more Afghans to the UK.
The Foreign Office said: “Last week, the government opened the Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme which will give up to 20,000 people at risk a new life in the UK, including those British Council contractors who are most at risk.”
The British Council said it has been pushing the British government to consider their applications as soon as possible.