Sheffield woman raising money for Afghanistan family trying to escape country after death threats

A Sheffield woman has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help an Afghanistan family who fear they will be targeted by the Taliban to get out of the country.

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 5:19 pm

Rebecca Mortby said she launched the appeal for a university friend’s family after the friend’s relatives got permission to come to Britain as they have all faced death threats. One member of the family was a judge who was involved in sentencing members of the Taliban who appeared in court. Another relative who was also a judge was killed last year, said Rebecca.

An 11-year-old girl called Mursal from the family, who are not being named as it will endanger them, wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel, asking for help when the family had applied to come here under the British ARAP scheme but had heard nothing. She later Tweeted her when time was running out.

The family twice tried to reach Kabul airport but the first time US troops fired over the heads of crowds and the second time a bomb went off. Now the family are trying to get out of the country and reach a neighbouring country overland, as per British government advice, but have been quoted at least £20,000 for 14 people by travel firms.

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Rebecca is crowdfunding to help raise that money.

Rebecca, who is from Crookes but now lives in the Wirral, Cheshire, said: “I went to university with one of the relatives, so when I heard about the situation in Aghanistan I dropped him a message saying ‘I hope your family are okay and let me know if I can help’.

“Initially he said ‘we are really confident they are going to be okay’. Later my friend got in touch to say ‘is there any way you can help to share a Tweet?’ Mursal had Tweeted Priti Patel asking her to check her emails as nine days had passed and the family were getting concerned. I contacted my MP to check the information, then on the 26th they got confirmation by phone that they could go to the airport.

“They tried previously on Tuesday, August 24, when they hadn’t got confirmation but tried out of desperation. They were there when US troops opened fire to suppress the crowds. The children witnessed people killed by gunfire.

A US soldier holds a sign indicating a gate is closed as hundreds of people gather near an evacuation control checkpoint on the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26

“They were there again when the bomb struck. After that the flights were stopped and on the 28th troops left for the final time.

“Now the British government is advising that people with relevant permission should travel overland. They have been quoted £20,000 for four adults and 10 children. They have all had death threats, even the children, and a member of the family who was a judge has been killed.”

One travel firm told the family that some people are crowdfunding, so Rebecca launched the appeal in her name to protect the family’s identity. She has also been approaching businesses and refugee charities and is working with an artist who will sell prints of their work to raise money.

Rebecca said: “It is such a tall order but we just decided to try anyway. There is no alternative.

"We’ll just keep on fundraising until we get the money.”

Rebecca is originally from Crookes and went to Hunters Bar Primary and High Storrs Schools. She moved away to go to university but still works in Sheffield with her mother, who is a psychologist who acts as an expert witness in court cases.

Rebecca’s crowdfunding appeal says that any money not used to help to family will go to assist other refugees. You can find the appeal at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savemuralsfamily?utm_term=EAvzX6q6m