We spoke to the British student whose holiday in Kabul went seriously wrong
Now, the Taliban is his best hope of getting out of Afghanistan
A British student is currently stuck in Afghanistan, hiding in a safe house in Kabul, awaiting evacuation after his risky last-minute holiday went seriously wrong.
Two days after Loughborough second year Miles Routledge arrived in Kabul, The Taliban also made it to the country’s capital. Since then, Miles has been streaming his experiences on Twitch and been doing wall-to-wall interviews.
Speaking to The Tab from a NATO safe house, as videos of panic at Kabul airport are emerging, Miles says he’s now relying on the Taliban to escort him to the airport for his escape.
Miles also revealed how he bought and wore a burka to hide from the Taliban, and explained how an ill-timed holiday turned into a fight for survival.
On Sunday, Miles went to a market in Kabul to buy supplies for some of the many women who’d flocked to Afghanistan’s capital, in order to escape the Taliban.
But when Miles arrived at the market, he and his tour guide, Abas*, saw the militant group heading towards them.
Chaos ensued. Everyone ran. Miles and Abas abandoned their car and started legging it in the 35 degree heat. At the time, Miles believed the Taliban would be hostile towards him as he’s British.
He took immediate action. “I bought a burka, put it on, and pretended to be a woman walking around with my tour guide, who people thought was just my husband,” Miles told The Tab.
Miles came to Afghanistan with the intention of doing charity work
Miles studies Physics at Loughborough Uni. He’s also devoutly religious and was hoping to come to Afghanistan to do some charity work as well as to see some historical Christian sites.
The situation in Afghanistan was rapidly deteriorating in the run-up to his trip, but Miles was reassured by many advisers that he’d be alright as long as he stayed in the capital. When Miles first saw the Taliban on Sunday morning, it became abundantly clear that he would not be safe.
The British embassy was deserted
As Miles and Abas fled the market, Miles quickly grew too hot and was forced to replace his burka with a head scarf that covered all but his nose and eyes. This was enough of a disguise, Miles thought.
Eventually, the pair arrived at the UK embassy, but everyone had already fled. “We couldn’t get through on the phone. There was no note left saying, ‘go to this place.’ It was just all gone basically,” Miles told The Tab.
‘The whole airport looked like World War Z’
So as heat stroke and dehydration set in, Abas and Miles headed for the airport. When they arrived, the scene was chaotic and there was no one from the UK in sight.
“The whole airport looked like World War Z because every single Afghan in the area has gone there and they’re just not leaving,” Miles said. People were jumping on moving planes and often dying in the process.
“We kind of walked out, defeated. Then it got to around 4pm when we heard the government had surrendered,” Miles told The Tab.
The Taliban let Miles go because he said he was from Wales and they didn’t know where that was
That evening, Miles and Abas left the airport but were again faced with the Taliban who were coming the other way. “I gave them a subtle nod, but they just didn’t care.”
Miles has had several interactions with the Taliban over the past couple of days. At one point, a Taliban member raised an AK-47 to him and asked if he was British. Miles, originally from Birmingham, said he was Welsh and was here to do charity work.
Not knowing where Wales was, the Taliban let him go.
‘Abas has saved my life’
After leaving the airport, Miles and Abas found a NATO safe house. Abas wasn’t allowed in because he isn’t British or from any of the NATO countries, so the pair were forced to part ways.
Abas went back to his family and has been messaging Miles since. “He’s fearing for his life right now. He keeps having to change houses because everyone knows who he is.
“He’s probably going to be executed because he’s helped the government in the past with translation services.”
Miles adds: “He has saved my life.”
‘The Taliban are trying to help us’
Miles is currently in the safe house around 15 minutes from the airport. As we talk, the rattle of machine gunfire can be heard very close to the building.
Although Miles describes the safe house as “a little bit under siege at the moment” he feels relatively secure as he’s in there with 50 NATO soldiers and 15 civilians.
And in a shocking turn of events, the Taliban now offers Miles his best chance of survival. “They just want us gone, so they’re trying to help us,” Miles said.
Miles is now waiting for the call that a plane is ready to take him away. When that call is made, he’ll put on a bulletproof vest and, with a Taliban escort, he’ll make his way to the airport.
A flight could come in the next two days or the next two weeks, but Miles is still hopeful. In the meantime, he wants people to help the people of Afghanistan in any way possible. His thoughts and prayers are with Abas and his family.
Follow this link to find resources on how you can help support people in Afghanistan.
* Name changed to preserve anonymity