UK urged to resettle fleeing Afghan women’s football team

Leeds United have offered support but players face return to Taliban regime unless accepted soon

The UK government is being asked to urgently resettle female players from Afghanistan’s junior football team who fled the Taliban and have been offered a new life with Leeds United.

The 35 young women – many of whom are in their teens – their families and football coaches are in Lahore, Pakistan, on 30-day visas. But the 136-strong group face returning to Afghanistan unless they are accepted by a third country soon – they have to leave Pakistan by 12 October.

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Afghanistan live news: Germany trying to persuade Taliban to allow civilian airlift after deadline

Latest updates: German foreign minister in talks over non-military flights after Taliban says no to foreign troops in the country after 31 August

US President Joe Biden will face pressure to extend the 31 August deadline to evacuate thousands seeking to flee the Taliban in Afghanistan when he meets Group of Seven (G7) leaders at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Western nations are struggling to bring home their own citizens and desperate Afghans seeking to flee the country fearing reprisals after Taliban militants seized control just over a week ago.

More than 4,226 Afghans, including embassy staff and their families, have been evacuated as part of “Operation Pitting”, the UK’s military evacuation. The UK has so far evacuated 7,109 people out of Kabul.

Earlier on Monday, defence secretary Ben Wallace said the Kabul evacuation effort was “down to hours now, not weeks” as he conceded Britain’s involvement will end when the US leaves Afghanistan.

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UK south-Asian diaspora despairs as India joins Covid red list

With travel from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh banned, some UK families are stuck abroad, while others cannot visit frail relatives

For the past 17 months, Saurav Dutt has had to watch from afar as relatives were lost to Covid, ancestral homes were damaged by a typhoon, and the mental toll of isolation, grief and illness led elders to question their very existence.

He had flights booked for May, but with cases soaring and India on the UK’s travel red list from 23 April, that is no longer an option. “It’s a very worrying time,” Dutt said. “You would think there are a million ways to help from over here, but we’re handcuffed. To deal with these things we need to be there.”

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