My name is Ahmed* I am 29 years. I have a wife, but she is not here with me. I was born in Afghanistan, and grew up there.

Back in the day, it was quite amazing. We had a lot of opportunities, during that era, like going to school, and after that I was able to access higher education as well. And in the meantime, we had also had the same opportunities on the girls’ side. They make up more than 50% of the population in Afghanistan. And they had equal rights – the same as males. However, it's changed now.

Once I completed my bachelor's degree (abroad), I came back to Afghanistan. Eventually I landed on a job in an office called the National Security Council, working with the UK forces - to be specific, the Royal Air Force (RAF). This was in around 2019, 2020.

My department worked collaboratively, because it was initially established and fully funded by the UK army to serve UK and NATO security objectives in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan there was quite a tense relationship with the UK [after the Taliban regained control of the country] because some Afghans who served alongside the UK military in countering terrorism and other areas were tortured and killed.

The unfortunate thing is, when the collapse of Afghanistan happened, everyone ran away. Like, they took their own ways, took matters into their own hand, because it was a matter of life and death. So, some of them were evacuated to the UK directly and later indirectly through Pakistan. However, there are still interpreters and some other individuals stranded in Afghanistan or neighbouring countries.

I wanted to come to the UK legally, but I had to run away. So, I reached Turkey via Iran which took me a couple of months. During that period, I got disconnected from my former UK supervisors who could have helped me with the evacuation. Once I entered Turkey, I tried to get in contact with them and fortunately they offered to help me with the online application. I am eligible under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) – quite a lot of my colleagues have come to the UK via this scheme.

I have been trying to apply since September 2021, because I want to be here legally, through the legal channels.

In the end, I had no alternative option but to come to the UK the way I came. I couldn't stay in Europe. Every country has their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. I came here due to many factors. Firstly, I have strong family and friend ties here in the UK. Secondly, so many of my friends and former colleagues are living here too. Thirdly, I have no language barrier and I’m extremely familiar and in love with the UK culture and regulations. I can speak fluent English and don't have any language barrier in the UK, but, if I reside in Europe, it's going to take me at least two years just to learn the language. I would have to start everything from scratch. Most importantly, I have worked and served with my life alongside the RAF who were extremely kind and generous towards their former colleagues. 

It's an extremely difficult journey. I crossed Iran by foot from Afghanistan. Once I got into Turkey there were shootings as well – if you are unlucky, you will get hit with a direct shot or beaten to death in some cases. 

I entered into Europe via Turkey, and made my way to France. I France I had to stay for quite some time in order to cross the perilous English Channel. I had to come by boat, out of desperation.

The journey is seriously life-threatening and the person who takes it has to gamble with his or her life. Since my initial contact with Migrant Help so far, they have always been quite helpful.

[In the hotel where I am staying] Everybody's background is quite different. The people that I met so far, the refugees from different nations - from Ethiopia, from Sudan, from Afghanistan from Iran - they haven't come here to do harm or with an intention of harm. The have just come here to be given an opportunity to live a better life. That's all.

The frustration part kicks in when you have to wait, and you have to do nothing else. You have to just sit. Do nothing.

Where I am staying, when we go out, it's quite a welcoming area, it is good. And it is quiet. Unlike other areas that I've seen on the news, where hotels are being attacked. In this area people are quite generous, quite welcoming, and if you have any questions, people will be quite helpful and approachable in times of need. 

*not his real name