He lost his wife, six children, his peace of mind – and his British asylum claim

Lately, Said Norzai hasn’t felt much like going to the mosque. He hasn’t lost faith. He’s just tired of the questions, and one in particular: how is the asylum claim going?

“I don’t like to go when I don’t have any good news,” he says. “The first question after ‘Hello, how are you?’ is ‘What’s happening with your case?’ It’s out of kindness but I don’t want to be reminded of it.”

In truth, it’s not going so well. Norzai and his 10-year-old son, Wali Khan, arrived in the UK last winter, having fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and then lost Said’s wife and six other children on the perilous journey west.

They thought their case, which the Guardian is following as part of our New Arrivals series, would be straightforward. It turned out to be anything but.

A catalogue of errors – many of them down to intricacies of the asylum system that are utterly baffling to new arrivals – has thrown the Norzais’ future in the UK into jeopardy, even though Norzai is clearly traumatised by his losses, even though Wali Khan is clearly flourishing in school.

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