Published: 06:00, 16 September 2021
The friend of an Afghan national struggling to bring his wife and two year old child to the safety of the UK despite being approved for resettlement says the British government must do more to help those at risk.
Dr Andrew Kidd from Barming made the comments after his friend, who we cannot name for their safety, in Kabul has been desperately trying to find a way to reach the UK since April.
The pair met when Mr Kidd was working for the British Embassy in Afghanistan more than 13 years ago and have been in touch ever since.
When the Afghanistan Relocation and Assistance Policy was widened to support more families, his friend became eligible for resettlement but his application was rejected in error.
Despite providing all the documents he needed to reverse the decision, his application was once again rejected.
Dr Kidd said: "That lost weeks of time to the extent that when he was called forward, it was chaos at the airport.
"This was at a time when the defence secretary Ben Wallace had publicly said if any MP writes to him about someone who’s at risk and needs assistance then he will personally take it up, so I wrote to Helen Grant."
Mrs Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, replied the following day on August 26 passing on a number for a MOD representative in Kabul.
Dr Kidd added: "I immediately sent my friend the number and he immediately replied to say: 'I’ve tried that number for days, it's always switched off.'
"I forwarded this to Helen Grant and heard nothing until last Friday.
"She claims to have helped 50 constituents with direct links to Afghanistan and is working to secure the safety of people trying to flee the Taliban but I wish I had confidence that was true, because my experience suggests otherwise.
"She replied when the fire was under her feet which did provide more info including that the UK was trying to look for safe passage from third countries
"She sent a link to an online form and said, if he hasn't already, he should fill it out to ensure he has the correct details. He was grateful for this but said he had already done this but had no info on what might be the next steps."
Mrs Grant said: "I can confirm that I have been, and continue to be, in direct contact with Dr Kidd and the matter is being progressed.
"In the interests of the safety and security of the individuals concerned we are unable to discuss details of specific cases."
The crisis in Afghanistan escalated this Spring, as American and allied troops prepared to withdraw following 20 years of war.
The Taliban seized control with astonishing rapidity and soon closed in on the capital.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
Dr Kidd, previously a senior adviser at the former Department for International Development, is also a volunteer mentor at Kent Refugee Action Network charity.
The 60-year-old says the UK must bring its efforts up to standard with other countries if it is serious about helping during the crisis.
"Other countries are way ahead of the UK in terms of really working with neighbouring countries to ensure safe passage," he added. "For all those who have put their faith in the UK, all they are being told is sit tight for now and it just feels we are behind the curve.