UK

Afghan Teen Najibullah Hashimi Says He 'Honours Britain' After Being Granted Asylum

19/09/2013 15:25 BST | Updated 19/09/2013 16:18 BST
PA

An Afghan teenager whose father and brother were murdered by the Taliban has won his right to stay in the UK.

Aspiring teacher Najibullah Hashimi was smuggled into the UK from his war-torn homeland as an 11-year-old in 2006, arriving in the UK after a six-month pilgrimage to safety.

The 19-year-old, who has finally won his battle against the Home Office, said he owed a debt of gratitude to the British people who successfully backed his right to remain.

Despite securing 13 GCSEs and a handful of A-levels and being described as a "son and brother" by his foster family, Home Office regulations meant he had to be returned to Afghanistan upon reaching adulthood - a journey the immigrant said would result in his death at the hands of Taliban fighters.

An 11th-hour reprieve stalling his flight to Kabul prompted a succession of tribunal hearings, with more than £1,600 in legal fees covered by benefactors in his adopted home county of Kent.

But Hashimi has now been told the application to remove him has failed, and - barring a final appeal from the Home Office - Mr Hashimi will be granted the visa which will allow him to fulfil his dream of becoming a teacher.

Speaking from his foster family's home in Faversham, Kent, the 19-year-old, who can speak four languages, said: "I am so grateful. Once I have the paperwork sorted I want to go to university to become a PE teacher.

"When I heard I won the case I was shouting and screaming, jumping all over the room. It was a relief.

"There isn't the chance for education in Afghanistan for me. Here it is completely different.

"I honour this country, it has given me so much. I have learned something every day I have been to school.

"I want to be something in the future. I want to teach so I can give something back to this country."

Hashimi has not seen his mother since she begged him to seek safety in Europe.

The Afghan said he first fled to Pakistan before walking for days and nights on end and hiding on-board freight transport destined for Dover.

He was eventually fostered by Steve and Michelle Griffiths, who already had two young sons in Tyler and Finlay.

Now an active member of Rodmersham Cricket Club, the Muslim teenager said he feels fully immersed in Western culture and hopes to become a British citizen.

He said; "Living with Steve is like living with my real family. I love them and I love being with them.

"To be in this family is like feeling safe.

"It would be really hard for me (to go back to Afghanistan). I have already lost one family, I don't want to lose a second one."

Hashimi said he was terrified at the prospect of being sent on a plane to Kabul and left to fend completely for himself,

and admitted he faced an anxious wait until the end of next week, the deadline for the Home Office to lodge an appeal.

But he has been warmed by a petition of signatures backing his right to remain in the UK, collected while he was being held in an immigrant holding centre ahead of his intended removal.

"I don't know who most of these people (who signed the petition) are," he said.

"But the public was behind me, so I just want to say a huge thank-you to them, otherwise I wouldn't be here now, I'd be in Afghanistan."

Griffiths said: "I think it's been a bit of a witch-hunt against Najib because he has never done anything wrong since he has been in this country. He has worked so hard and taken every opportunity."