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Growing up in an alien country wasn't easy

Blog posted by: , 06 April 2022 – Categories: A Modern Civil ServiceA Skilled Civil ServiceAn Ambitious Civil ServicePolicymakingUncategorized.

Rabia Nasimi

Twenty-three years after fleeing Afghanistan’s warzone aged just five years old, Rabia Nasimi tells how she adjusted to a new life and language in London. Now a civil servant, Rabia works in the Afghan Resettlement Team, using her experience to shape migration policy helping refugees.

What do you picture whenever you see the word ‘refugee’? A Ukrainian? As war-torn Ukraine fights for survival, world leaders are united in condemning the invasion, but what of the cost to millions of civilians fleeing their homeland? And what is being done to help?

The UK government’s response has included the launch of the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ sponsorship scheme. According to the UNHCR, as of 24 February 2022, there are more than 3.6 million Ukrainian refugees, and this number continues to rise. But this is not a new phenomenon. Not when millions of refugees from around the world seek sanctuary and safety in countries like the UK.

Curiously, my story began in Ukraine. But I am not Ukrainian. My parents were studying on a scholarship in Ukraine in the nineties when I was born. My family comes from Afghanistan, another country racked by conflict.

I came to the UK with my family in 1999 – this involved difficult and dangerous ordeals along the way when I was just five years old. It was an arduous 3,509-mile journey from Afghanistan to London.

At the time of arrival, we were a family of five and soon after, my youngest sister was born at St Thomas’ Hospital in the heart of London. I barely have memories from my early childhood, perhaps because I subconsciously wanted to bury them. 

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