Zahra is a journalist, women’s rights activist and mother. She was evacuated from Afghanistan when Kabul fell to the Taliban last summer.
Last week, I saw a TikTok video of Afghan boys on a boat crossing the Channel. When they saw the UK flag they started shouting with happiness because they finally arrived in the UK after days. They started asking for help from the border police. It’s heart-breaking to see things like this.
When I was in my country I didn’t plan to come to the UK. I had a very good life in Afghanistan, I was well known and held a good position in society as I was a TV presenter. I had a beautiful house, a job I loved, and my kids attended a private school. If I’d be in danger or had some issue, I knew I could resort to the law and defend myself, but when the Taliban took over I knew I couldn’t stand against them. My life and those of my children was at risk.
When you hear about refugees coming to the UK they are coming here because they are looking for safety and not for a better life, because just like me, they might have had a very good life in their own country. Of course, we are grateful for the opportunity the UK has given us and we feel safe here.
Today’s loss of life at sea leaves me deeply saddened for the families. I heard about another tragedy on the Mediterranean last week. The families of those who lost their lives at sea must be in great pain. Leaving behind their families, these people escaped their countries in hopes of finding safe haven elsewhere. The loss of a family member, however, ends all hopes. Ten years ago, my brothers went missing for six months after fleeing Afghanistan. My mother thought they died; she was stressed and couldn’t stop crying. She kept saying she wanted her boys alive. Thankfully, my brothers were able to reach Germany, but my mother is still dealing with the trauma and is still triggered whenever she hears about people dying as they try to reach safer places.
My thoughts are with the families of those who were lost at sea today. Scars like this never heal entirely.