Masoma has not seen her family since she was forced to flee Afghanistan over two and a half years ago. While the UK government promised they could join her in the UK, they remain separated. This is her story...

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, Masoma's life changed forever. Her job with the British Council put herself and her family at risk, so she had to flee to the UK through a government scheme for Afghans who worked alongside the UK in Afghanistan. 

While government officials promised her family could join her, over two and a half years on, they remain separated by thousands of miles and are still at risk.

"It's a horrible reality, not knowing their well-being or whereabouts," she says. 

Masoma
"It is difficult to put into words; they are my pulse, the very rhythm of my existence. Who can be alive without a heartbeat?"
Photo: Masoma Mansori

A heartbreaking separation 

"It is difficult to put into words" Masoma says, describing the feeling of separation from her loved ones, adding: "They are my pulse, the very rhythm of my existence."

On the day she was due to leave her home, Masoma was caught up in a terrifying explosion at Kabul airport. 

“While we were running, I lost sight of my father and brother. I was filled with worry," she recalls. "Eventually, they appeared, and my father gestured for me to keep running…”

But due to the explosion, the airport was closed and Masoma had to remain in Afghanistan, living in hiding for almost three months. 

The family’s final farewell came in November 2021, when Masoma made it back to the airport and began her journey. After spending three weeks in Pakistan, she arrived in the UK and has been working hard to rebuild her life here. 

Life in the UK

As well as taking part in a leadership course with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Masoma recently joined the IRC’s Community Advisory Board which was created to amplify the voice of refugees and asylum seekers within the IRC's work supporting these groups.

Determined to support people who have been displaced, Masoma recently helped her local council expand employment training for refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. 

Read more about Masoma's work in the UK: Two women share their story of friendship, resilience and change

Masoma
Masoma is now working to provide support to other people who have been displaced in the UK.
Photo: International Rescue Committee

But despite Masoma’s incredible resilience, life without her family has been a daily struggle, as she says: “Living without them is an indescribable hardship. The impact is like a trauma for me, I am really crumbled, emotionally and physically."

We need a better system

War and persecution tear families apart, with many refugees in the UK separated from their loved ones. 

This separation can last years as the UK's Family Reunion rules are incredibly restrictive and there are currently not enough pathways for families to reunite.

Masoma's story highlights the urgent need for the UK to create functioning safe routes and offer meaningful protection. Family reunion provides the stability refugees need to resettle and integrate into their new communities. 

Masoma
Masoma is hoping to reunite with her family in the future.

Hope for the future 

"My biggest hope is simply to be reunited with my family." Masoma explains, continuing: "To hold them close again, to see their faces, and to know that they are safe."

"Beyond that, I hope for stability and security for my family, wherever we may be, and the opportunity to rebuild our lives together. Ultimately, my greatest hope is for a future where we can be together, free from the fear and uncertainty that has kept us apart."

What is the International Rescue Committee?

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover and rebuild their lives. We work in over 50 crisis-affected countries, including Afghanistan.

The IRC in the UK

In addition to helping people in the midst of humanitarian crises, the IRC helps refugees living in the UK recover and rebuild their lives. Read about our UK programmes.