Northern Ireland news

Colum Eastwood calls for help for family of Derry Afghan refugee

Muhammad Edress Kharotai left his native Afghanistan in 2011.
Seamus McKinney

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on the British Foreign Office to intervene in the case of a Derry-based Afghan refugee whose younger sister has been abducted in Kabul.

Muhammad Edrees Kharotai moved to Derry in 2011 after the Taliban murdered his father who was working as a government official.

Earlier this week, he was contacted by his mother, who still lives in Afghanistan, who told him one of his four sisters, Sama Kharotai has been abducted.

Mr Kharotai said they had been been living in a tent on the streets of Kabul ever since the Taliban seized power following the departure of US and British military personnel.

The Afghan refugee said it was unclear whether his sister had been taken by the Taliban or Islamic State members. Mr Kharotai said his mother told him a group came into the camp where they were sheltering and took “small young girls” away.

He said: “Words cannot describe how I am feeling right now.”

In an interview with BBC radio, Mr Kharotai both the Taliban and Islamic State had abducted young children in the past and it appeared they were adopting the same tactic now.

Mr Eastwood said the British government must act immediately to ensure the safety of Mr Kharotai’s family.

“The family of my constituent, Muhammad, is in urgent need of assistance in Kabul. Over recent weeks, I have contacted the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary to intercede, but they have done nothing," the Foyle MP said.

He said Mr Kharotai’s family has been left in a “devastating and dangerous and difficult position”.

The Foreign Office said it would continue to do all it could to deliver on its obligation to get all British nationals and “eligible Afghans” out of Afghanistan while the security situation allowed.

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