Photos show flight of 265 Afghan citizens, MoD staff leaving Kabul

Photos show full flight of 265 Afghan citizens, MoD staff and army personnel leaving Kabul – as it emerges the UK has evacuated 3,821 people in the past week

  • RAF place was filled to capacity with embassy staff and others to settle in the UK 
  • Evacuations have been underway since the Taliban took control on August 13
  • Reports have flooded in of death squads hunting Afghans who helped UK army 

Incredible pictures show 265 people packed on to a flight from Kabul as the Ministry of Defence have revealed 3,821 have been evacuated from Afghanistan so far. 

An RAF plane was filled to capacity with embassy staff, British nationals and any Afghans able to settle in the UK. 

Evacuations have been underway in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country on August 13 after American troops were pulled from the country. 

Reports have since flooded in of death squads hunting Afghans who helped the British or American armies in their homes and killing them. 

Operation Pitting, involving 1,000 British soldiers, has been deployed to help repatriate those stranded in the country and desperately needing escape. 

An RAF plane was filled to capacity with embassy staff, British nationals and any Afghans able to settle in the UK

Evacuations have been underway in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country on August 13 after American troops were pulled from the country

Members of the British and US military engage in the evacuation of people out of Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday

Some 265 people are evacuated in a flight by the British Army out of Kabul 

British armed forces work with the U.S. military to evacuate eligible civilians and their families out of the country today 

Britain’s ambassador in Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, told The Sun: ‘The scale of this effort is enormous and is without a doubt the biggest international challenge I have worked on as a diplomat.

‘Lives are at stake and I am incredibly proud of the tenacious efforts of my team during these challenging times, with military and civilian staff working together to successfully evacuate thousands of people in the last week.’ 

Chaos has ensued at the airport ever since the Taliban took control and the Armed Forces are in a race against time to evacuate as many as possible.  

British troops at the airport in Kabul told Sky News that the mayhem at airports, including mass crushes which have killed at least four women, were the worst scenes they saw during their service. 

In a powerfully emotive article for The Mail on Sunday, Mr Wallace warns that time is ‘ticking along, impossible to stop’ towards the imminent end of the UK’s mission to rescue thousands of Afghans entitled to come to the UK. Pictured: Afghans attempt to get into Kabul airport yesterday

While acknowledging that ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’, Mr Wallace also announces that a series of ‘processing hubs’ will be set up in countries neighbouring Afghanistan for refugees who manage to escape. If they can establish their right to come to the UK, they will be flown to Britain. Pictured: British and US troops help Afghans in Kabul

A U.S. Navy Corpsman with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, hands out water to children during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier, right, and Taliban fighters stand guard on their respective sides at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Torkham, in Khyber district, Pakistan

Taliban fighters stand guard on their side at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Torkham, in Khyber district, Pakistan

Thousands of Afghans could be left behind in Kabul as ministers push to extend the deadline for the last British evacuation flight beyond Tuesday. Pictured: British citizens catching a flight earlier this week

It is unclear exactly when evacuations need to be finished by but US President Joe Biden has indicated he wants them finished by the end of the month, meaning Britain will most likely have to follow suit.  

It comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace declared that ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’.  

How many people have the West actually evacuated? 

America

The promise: At least 22,000 evacuees including US citizens and those holding visas

Aid groups said 80,000 visas may need to be issued to keep Biden’s pledge to help all those who aided US forces, but that promise has almost certainly been broken 

The reality: Just 17,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul in the last seven days, the Pentagon said on Saturday, despite there being capacity for up to 9,000 per day

Since the end of July, some 22,000 people have been airlifted out, including Embassy staff, citizens of NATO countries, at-risk Afghan nationals as well as Afghans with special visas  

Who’s left? That means to keep even its most-modest promises, the US has at least 10,000 more people to evacuate before the air bridge closes

Britain

The promise: The UK said it wants to evacuate 7,000 UK citizens and Afghan staff from the country

Prime Minister Boris Johnson then promised to take another 5,000 refugees this year as part of a scheme that will allow 20,000 to settle over five years  

The reality: Britain evacuated 2,163 people from Kabul between Sunday night and Friday morning, and is aiming to take out another 1,000 per day as long as flights can keep operating. This target was met on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence said.

In total, the UK has now taken some 4,800 people out of Afghanistan in recent weeks, including more than 600 UK citizens and thousands of Afghans covered by the resettlement scheme

Who’s left? To keep its most-modest promises, the UK must evacuate some 2,200 people – but up to 8,200 if the prime minister’s pledge to take refugees is to be met

 

In a powerfully emotive article for The Mail on Sunday, Mr Wallace warns that time is ‘ticking along, impossible to stop’ towards the imminent end of the UK’s mission to rescue thousands of Afghans entitled to come to the UK.

While acknowledging that ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’, Mr Wallace also announces that a series of ‘processing hubs’ will be set up in countries neighbouring Afghanistan for refugees who manage to escape. If they can establish their right to come to the UK, they will be flown to Britain.

The MoD is looking at establishing hubs in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey – but, startlingly, is also exploring whether the Taliban might allow the UK to retain a ‘presence’ in Kabul after the Americans have gone.

Mr Wallace makes a veiled plea for Washington to delay the US leaving date beyond August 31, writing: ‘Perhaps the Americans will be permitted to stay longer and they will have our complete support if they do.’

The 900 British troops cannot remain without the logistical support of the 6,000 US soldiers in Kabul and will have to finish the evacuation before that point to allow enough time to secure their own safe exit. 

US citizens were yesterday warned not to go to the airport amid fears that they might be hijacked en route by militants. The State Department said the US side of the airport would close for 48 hours. The British section remained open.

According to the MoD, 3,821 British and Afghan nationals have been evacuated from Kabul, where 1,000 British troops are based. About 3,500 people are still waiting to be airlifted.

Last night, an MoD source said the announcement about the refugee centres was intended to display ‘honesty’ about the thousands of British allies likely to be left behind. 

In a separate announcement last night, under-fire Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain had ‘stepped up to the plate’ after he secured 200 visa waivers for Afghan journalists to flee. 

In his article today, Mr Wallace says that the collapse of Afghanistan has been ‘an exhausting, worrying and demanding time’, and warns that ‘the distressing exit of the West will have consequences for us all for years to come’.

He says: ‘The Parachute Regiment at the airport are dealing with unimaginable challenges. Public order, overcrowding, searing heat and desperate people. Soldiers trained for war are instead holding babies and co-ordinating crowds.’

The Minister adds: ‘Too many people in the airport has meant a suspension of access. I am confident that too will be fixed or mitigated but until it is, the crowds will get bigger. 

‘And ticking along, impossible to stop, is time. I have said all along that no nation will be able to get everyone out.

‘It is a source of deep sadness for many of us across Nato and no one wanted 20 years of sacrifice to end this way. We will do our best to the very last moment. But it isn’t the end. 

‘The Home Secretary and I have been planning the next stage… we will establish a series of processing hubs across the region outside of Afghanistan for those Afghans we have an obligation to bring to this country.’ 

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