Nabila escaped the Taliban for a new life in Canberra, but she fears her family will be left behind


Nabila (pseudonym) fled Afghanistan almost a year ago.

As a public figure and advocate for women in her home country, she was targeted by the Taliban.

One day, she received a note from the group, intended to precede her assassination.

“When I got this message, I was shaking. I had to hide from my kids and my family. I went into the kitchen and I was breathing so deeply,” she told the ABC on covered with anonymity.

The mother-of-two was torn as she recently told an audience that she would never be threatened with leaving her country, but her family told her to flee.

She got out just in time.

“There was only half an hour between my departure and the occupation and looting of my house by the Taliban,” Nabila said.

Former Australian Embassy guards and families in a ditch outside Kabul airport on August 23, 2021.(Provided)

She grabbed only her young children and her nephew, destroyed her SIM cards and headed for safety, before spending days in the sewers as equally desperate Afghans overwhelmed the airport.

Nabila hid her face as she tried to cross the airport for days and moved among the thousands of Afghans trying to leave, before New Zealand and Australian forces managed to drag her and her out. his family, trash.

Refugee rights activist

A US soldier holds a sign that a door is closed as hundreds of people gather documents.
Hundreds of people gathered for days at Kabul airport, trying to flee after the Taliban took over.(PA: Wali Sabawoon)

Now settled in Canberra, Nabila’s mind is elsewhere, as she has constant worries for her family back in Afghanistan.

“Physically I’m here, but mentally I have big challenges and I’m back home,” Nabila told the ABC.

She shared her story to remind the world of the devastating plight of women and girls living under Taliban occupation.

“Daily, the Taliban murder, they search and shoot. But international organizations watch in silence.

She said women and girls are currently unable to leave their homes without being accompanied by a man and many are terrified and impoverished.

“It’s so, so hard for women.”

Difficulties finding affordable housing for refugees in Canberra

A woman in a Red Cross branded shirt smiles.
Danielle Sweetman says it’s hard to find affordable housing for refugees in Canberra.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Many displaced Afghans have arrived in Australia, but the Australian Red Cross said finding them shelter has never been more difficult.

“Our clients are being hit very hard by the affordable housing crisis,” said Danielle Sweetman, volunteer engagement manager.

“Being able to provide [the refugees] with something secure in the long term is quite difficult to obtain, and on top of that the question of the cost of living in Australia is definitely an issue.”

She said that when the families, including Nabila’s, arrived, “What we’re looking for is really the immediate mental state…and then housing is a top priority.”

The Red Cross Humanitarian Settlement Program has also helped Afghan refugees by providing food, school registration, language programs and helping new arrivals understand local laws, transportation and currency.

“What’s important is that the refugees have a sense of their local community,” Ms Sweetman said.

Nabila said she was spared Australia’s rent affordability crisis after a generous family in Canberra allowed her to rent their home cheaply.

But before that, she lived in a trailer park with her children.

“I can’t imagine a country with such nice people. I now have everything I need here,” she beamed.

“In the Canberra community, every day people ask, ‘How are you? What do you need?'”

She said that after a long year, she was finally starting to feel like herself again.

“I never give up. I’m on my feet.”

Previous How applying for an early visa can save you travel headaches
Next A retail expert answers questions about the cost of living crisis