Miss England contestant reveals she fled Afghanistan with her family

Miss England contestant, 26, reveals she fled Afghanistan with her family aged just three before travelling across Europe by foot, in lorries and a dinghy before finally gaining Dutch and UK citizenship

  • Lida Nasiri, 26, currently lives in London, where she works in public relations
  • Miss England contestant fled Afghanistan with her family when aged just three
  • Her mother decided to flee with her children after the Taliban rose to power 

A woman competing to be the next Miss England has revealed that she is a former refugee who fled Afghanistan with her family when aged just three – and spent ten years battling to find safety.

Lida Nasiri, 26, who now lives in London, where she works in public relations, was born in Kabul, but her mother Brishna decided to flee to Iran with her daughters after the extremist Taliban rose to power in the capital of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

From there, the family travelled to Russia, where Brishna worked for two years to pay people-smugglers for their passage, first to Poland, then by dinghy to Germany.

They journeyed to Poland on foot with a large group of refugees, all carrying their few belongings – while also being told to squeeze into lorries that were under the smugglers control.

After escaping deportation and travelling to neighbouring Germany by sea, the family – which included Lida’s four-year-old sister Surya – then claimed asylum in the Netherlands in 2001. 

Lida, who came to Britain legally via Holland in 2011 and has permanent citizenship in the UK, told The Sun: ‘It was nearly six years later when they told us we could stay and gave us Dutch citizenship. Finally, after all we’d been through, we were safe.’

Lida Nasiri (pictured), 26, who now lives in London, where she works in public relations, was born in Kabul, but her mother Brishna decided to flee to Iran with her daughters after the extremist Taliban rose to power in the capital of Afghanistan in the 1990s

From there, the family travelled to Russia, where Brishna worked for two years to pay people-smugglers for their passage, first to Poland, then by dinghy to Germany. Pictured, Lida

They journeyed to Poland on foot with a large group of refugees, all carrying their few belongings – while also being told to squeeze into lorries that were under the smugglers control. Pictured, Lida with sister Surya, right, in Russia

‘The hardest part was knowing that my life could end at any moment, that I could lose my mum,’ Lida said when recalling her journey from Poland to Germany. 

‘I was holding her hand at all times, not knowing what would happen. But we thought that if we went back to Afghanistan, we would die.

‘We were fighting for everything we wanted, chasing safety and peace. Europe for us represented peace and life, instead of death. And my mum was determined we would make it.’

She also recalled how when arriving in Poland, she and her family were placed in a gym hall with other refugees. 

After escaping deportation and travelling to neighbouring Germany by sea, the family – which included Lida’s four-year-old sister Surya – then claimed asylum in the Netherlands in 2001. Pictured, Lida

Lida explained that everyone was terrified and feared they would die if forced to return to Afghanistan. 

For her, Lida said the Miss England contest – which she entered after winning a competition celebrating natural beauty – is not about being the most beautiful.

Instead, it is about all she has suffered over the years, and shining a light on her family’s struggle. 

The Miss England contestant will now compete for one of 15 places in the grand final on August 22.

Lida (pictured) came to Britain legally via Holland in 2011 and has permanent citizenship in the UK

For her, Lida (pictured) said the Miss England contest – which she entered after winning a competition celebrating natural beauty – is not about being the most beautiful

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