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'Digital Dunkirk': Industry professional helps rescue girl from Afghanistan

'Digital Dunkirk': Industry professional helps rescue girl from Afghanistan
Photo: Aisha en route (via James Turnbull's LinkedIn)

An insurance professional is among a team that has saved a young woman from Afghanistan in a rescue mission dubbed 'Digital Dunkirk'.

James Turnbull, chief digital officer for Reassured, is one of a large group of like-minded British professionals who started putting their resources together and leveraging their contacts weeks ago after the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan.

Their mission, as Turnbull has put it, was "desperately trying to help people get out of Kabul" following the accelerated transition of power to the Taliban.

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He commented: "It became what’s now called a ‘Digital Dunkirk’ with many hours spent doing all we could to help from so far away.

"The girl I’ve focused my effort on was a called Aisha."

In September, the network of Britons, which included many people who have served in the Military, managed to get her story published in the Daily Mail and elsewhere. 

She is one of a number of young women that faced in danger in Afghanistan and who have been the focus of attention for the Digital Dunkirk volunteers.

But yesterday (Thursday 11 November - fittingly, Remembrance Day), Turnbull wrote on LinkedIn: "I’m delighted to share, that after many, many, many fraught weeks, Aisha has now managed to flee and is en route to Portugal.

"The focus now shifts from survival to helping her education / career get back on track."

Aisha was thriving in an IT degree at Kabul University before the Taliban reemerged.

Turnbull added: "Aisha refuses to accept financial support, but I’m wondering if there are any female tech leaders out there who’d be interested in mentoring a young woman embarking into the IT industry or an IT company interested in donating a laptop to aid her studies?"

His plea for mentoring and ongoing support has been met with several pledges already by the financial services industry.

Responding on LinkedIn, Vicky Churcher, intermediary director at AIG Life, promised some practical help for Aisha.

Churcher wrote: "An admirable effort to help Aisha and fantastic news she’s managed to flee Kabul.

"It’s so important to support and encourage all young people, but this young lady in particular deserves help.

"AIG Life would be delighted to fund a laptop for her to aid her studies. I’ll be in touch to make relevant arrangements. We hope this helps make her traumatic but heroic challenges a little easier to bear."

If any financial advisers would like to join Digital Dunkirk or get involved in any way, please drop FTAdviser a line and we will help put you in touch with Turnbull and his network who are still trying to get other young women out of danger and back into education or apprenticeships.