Afghan family’s tears of joy as they take ‘freedom flight’ to the UK

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — It was the first time for many of the passengers of an Afghan family to board a plane. But their journey was anything but ordinary. Their flight was not to a far-off destination like Saudi Arabia or America. Instead, it was to the UK, and they will be starting a new life there.

The emotional migration of a family from Afghanistan to the UK has captured the nation’s hearts, and one family’s story has become an example of the true spirit of this positive movement.

On Sunday 6th May 2018, the Afghan family were on their way to the UK from Kabul, when a plane from the UK flew over the city with the words ‘Free to fly’. The family were delighted and happy, and the moment they saw the words on the plane’s side, they started to cry.

After a nocturnal journey from Afghanistan’s war-torn nation, a family of seven has found refuge in the United Kingdom (photo: Ziaullah Omer/AP/Getty/AP).

A former Afghan translator described how his wife wept with delight as their family of seven was airlifted out of the country for safety in the United Kingdom.

After landing in Manchester on a so-called “freedom flight” in the early hours of Tuesday, Ziaullah Omer’s relocated family is quarantining for ten days at a hotel.

Ziaullah, speaking for the first time under his actual name, expressed his gratitude to the British Government for saving their lives.

He spoke as emboldened Taliban militants made fast territorial advances throughout his country, which he said would inevitably lead to the fall of Kabul.

Afghans on board the Airbus 330 night trip from Kabul to Manchester Airport through Dubai included the former translator and firefighter’s family.

‘When we were boarding the aircraft at the airport, my wife was weeping with joy,’ Ziaullah told Metro.co.uk.

‘I felt the same way, but I had to keep my emotions in check in order to care for my family.’ On the trip, there were around 20 families, we were all interpreters, and everyone was joyful and relieved. It’s fantastic to be in the United Kingdom; it’s a really secure and wonderful environment for us, and we’re not in any danger.

‘Our lives have been spared, and we want to express our gratitude to the British government and people for all they have done for us.’

Ziaullah, 37, previously told Metro.co.uk how the Taliban murdered his father and one-year-old son as he was being sought down for his ties to the Western mission in his country.

Ziaullah Omer and his wife say they are extremely grateful to the UK Government for their resettlement in the UK (Picture: Ziaullah Omer)

Ziaullah Omer and his wife express their gratitude to the UK government for resettling them in the country. (Photo courtesy of Ziaullah Omer)

Between 2009 and 2010, he worked as an interpreter in Sangin, Helmand province, where he was responsible for translating Taliban radio transmissions for British troops.

Ziaullah then returned to Kabul, where he grew up, to serve as a fireman with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at Hamid Karzai International Airport, where he stayed another six years and received many accolades.

For the Alokozay Group of Companies, he changed positions again, becoming a firefighting squad commander and instructor.

Under the condition of anonymity at the time, he described how he and his family had to stay in hiding, traveling between homes to escape the Taliban, who he said had deployed spies into the city to spy on ISAF personnel.

After his family is relocated to a home in London through the UK Government’s resettlement program, Ziaullah wants to become a fireman or work in an administrative capacity. His wife, who was once taken by the Taliban by her hair to his father’s home gate by the Taliban, wants to study a trade like tailoring or hair and beauty.

Exc: Afghan interpreter and his family land in Manchester as Taliban onslaught continues

Ziaullah Omer was praised for his efforts as a fireman helping UK and foreign troops (Picture: Ziaullah Omer)

As the rebels begin to take major towns and cities, the family is seeking to start a new life as the UK and US military activities come to an end after two decades.

With intense combat raging in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s southern metropolis, US intelligence sources have warned that Kabul may fall to the Taliban by the end of the month.

‘With the departure of ISAF, the UK, and the US, there will be extremely severe warfare in Afghanistan,’ Ziaullah warned.

‘The Taliban are advancing extremely fast, and they will undoubtedly seize control of Kabul. They will take control of the whole country of Afghanistan.

‘I feel terrible for the women, since they will be unable to leave the home, even to go to the stores, and there will be no job and no future for the males.’

A Taliban fighter poses for a photo as he patrols inside the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. The Taliban captured the provincial capital near Kabul on Thursday, the 10th the insurgents have taken over a weeklong blitz across Afghanistan as the U.S. and NATO prepare to withdraw entirely from the country after decades of war. (AP Photo/Gulabuddin Amiri)

A Taliban fighter poses for a picture while patrolling within the Afghan city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul (Photo: Gulabuddin Amiri/AP).

‘We are extremely pleased to be here, and we would want to thank British troops and the British Government,’ Ziaullah’s wife, who requested not to be identified to protect her family remaining in Afghanistan, told Metro.co.uk.

The parents, who landed on a UK Government-chartered aircraft just after midnight, are staying in a city center hotel with their three-year-old daughter and six-year-old boys.

Former translators and other ex-staff members whose lives are in danger after helping Western troops have been accused of being abandoned by the British government. Many claim they were informed they were disqualified for repatriation because they were fired for minor infractions or did not work for the UK directly.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 10 : Displaced Afghans reach out for aid from a local Muslim organization at a makeshift IDP camp on August 10, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. People displaced by the Taliban advancing are flooding into the Kabul capital to escape the Taliban takeover of their provinces. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

At a temporary camp in Kabul, displaced Afghans seek assistance from a local Muslim group (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images). )

‘The Taliban would have murdered my whole family if we had remained in Afghanistan, since they had already slain my son and father,’ Ziaullah added.

‘They knew where my home was and had broken in three times, threatening my family with death.’

‘I was particularly concerned about my children, who are now teenagers and might have been murdered while out playing.’

During his time with UK people, the former civil worker acquired a love for British customs, such as football and cricket.

‘I know how the British people live, the food they consume, and the sports they like because of the job I’ve done over the last 10 or 11 years,’ he added. ‘Among the British people, I feel at ease.’

Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. The Taliban captured the provincial capital near Kabul on Thursday, the 10th the insurgents have taken over a weeklong blitz across Afghanistan as the U.S. and NATO prepare to withdraw entirely from the country after decades of war. (AP Photo/Gulabuddin Amiri)

Taliban militants have been on the attack throughout Afghanistan, as seen here in the city of Ghazni (Photo: Gulabuddin Amiri/AP).

The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which is not time-limited and prioritizes those most at danger, has committed the government to ‘significantly expedite’ relocations.

According to the Ministry of Defence, further help is being given, including security advice, financial assistance and transfer to secure locations inside Afghanistan.

‘No one’s life should be placed in jeopardy because they backed the UK government in Afghanistan,’ a spokesman added.

‘Our Afghan relocation program is one of the most generous in the world, having helped over 2,700 former Afghan employees and their families start new lives in the UK, with over 1,000 of them coming in the past few weeks alone.

‘Hundreds more will follow as we continue to substantially increase the pace of relocations.’ We carefully consider each relocation request against the ARAP’s standards.

‘Those who were dismissed for severe offenses, such as committing a crime in the UK or endangering the Safety and security of British soldiers, will remain barred.’

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