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‘We lost our baby’: Afghan refugee suffers miscarriage in hotel while waiting for permanent home

I

t was 1am when Afghan refugee Muhammed Nasir heard his wife calling to him from the bathroom in the Southampton hotel where they were staying. She was suffering a miscarriage.

Just weeks earlier the former National Crime Agency (NCA) logistics manager, his wife and two young children had fled Taliban violence in Kabul via an evacuation flight as part of the UK’s Operation Pitting.

Mr Nasir’s job meant he was in danger when the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

The family had finished a hotel quarantine stint near Heathrow when they were relocated to Southampton. They waited around three months in that hotel before finally moving to a home in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

“My wife was pregnant, we lost [our] baby while we were in the hotel,” Mr Nasir told the Standard from an International Rescue Committee event in London.

“We lost a baby, 16-week-old baby, because we didn’t know how to deal with medical issues.”

Mr Nasir is one of more than 15,000 civilians that were flown out of Kabul by the Royal Air Force as part of Operation Pitting in August 2021 – the biggest air evacuation since the Second World War.

But while 7,572 Afghan refugees have been provided with permanent homes since then, there are thousands more – latest Home Office figures show 9,242 – still living across 63 hotels.

This temporary accommodation is costing the Government millions of pounds every week and taking a mental toll on refugees.

Mr Nasir said his wife started feeling unwell while the family were in a quarantine hotel after first arriving at Heathrow.

“She was saying ‘I feel dizzy’. We asked a lot for help while in the quarantine hotel, we got no help.

“We didn’t know the situation. The [issues] started from there. She was not feeling well, nobody checked her or prescribed her anything. We weren’t sure 100 per cent at first she was pregnant.”

A week later the family were moved to the Holiday Inn Express in West End, Southampton.

“The doctor took a test and said: ‘You are pregnant you should take care of yourself’,” Mr Nasir told the Standard.

“A week later, she was telling me she had very bad stomach pain. We waited a while.

“It was 1am [when] she called me, she was in the washroom. I went and saw blood. I didn’t know what to do.”

Mr Nasir said they received a call from a doctor who told them to wait, and hours later they received a call from a specialist and an ambulance was sent.

His wife spent a few days in hospital before she was discharged.

But a week later, the situation worsened, and she was taken back to the hospital.

“After we lost the baby, a month later, they always say my wife needs medical care a lot, and it was very hard to have medical care like that in the hotel,” Mr Nasir said.

Muhammed Nasir with International Rescue Committee’s Emery Pacifique Igiraneza

/ IRC/Caroline Irby

His family relocated to accommodation in Eastleigh, Hampshire where they now live permanently.

But the former NCA worker still has mental scars from his final days in Afghanistan.

He told the Standard three days before he received an email confirming his evacuation from Kabul, he was stopped at a Taliban checkpoint.

In fear of being recognised as someone who worked with foreigners, Mr Nasir tried to escape the area.

“They came after me, they got me, they beat me a lot without asking why. They just grabbed me from my car and started beating me a lot. Thye cuffed my hands.

“I was scared a lot.”

He contacted the British Embassy and three days later received an email advising he and his colleagues get themselves to Kabul Airport for an evacuation flight.

“We spent three days in Kabul Airport, me with my kids, I will never forgot what happened,” Mr Nasir said.

“I stayed three days, two nights there with no food, very little water.

“I was holding my daughter on my shoulder, one of them hit my daughter with their gun.

“It’s hard to see your kids beaten in front of you and you can’t do nothing. I was completely out of control.”

While he has moved into a home in East Sussex, many of his colleagues remain living in hotels.

Mr Nasir said it has been very difficult for the families.

“I chat with my colleagues as I was leading the evacuation of my team.

“They say…we know it’s safe but we are in big trouble here. We have no future, we cannot decide our future.

“They can’t decide about school, about work – all these things are related to where they live.”

With a housing supply issue in London, Mr Nasir is urging Afghan refugees living in hotels to consider living in other parts of the UK.

“Sstaying in any part of the UK you will be treated the same as you would in London.

“I’m requesting some organisation or the Home Office to educate them about [having] the same rights. If in London, in Hampshire, in Scotland, you will be treated the same and have the same rights.”

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