Boris Johnson govt blasted over Afghan exit as hundreds left behind - GulfToday

Boris Johnson govt blasted over Afghan exit as hundreds left behind


This photo shows UK military personnel onboard a A400M aircraft leaving Kabul, Afghanistan. AP

Gulf Today Report

The UK government on Sunday faced a torrent of criticism after military planes carrying British troops and diplomats from Kabul are landing at a UK air base after the UK’s two-week evacuation operation ended, leaving hundreds eligible for relocation behind.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed a mission "unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes" after the UK airlifted over 15,000 people in the last two weeks.


Multiple rockets fired at Kabul airport, intercepted by defence system

Another attack likely at Kabul airport, Biden pledges more strikes on Daesh

Taliban says ready to take over Kabul airport as US in final phase of evacuations

Troops landed back at Brize Norton airbase in southern England on Sunday after Britain was forced to withdraw following the decision of its ally the United States to end its 20-year presence.

Johnson praised the evacuation efforts in "harrowing conditions" and assured the military that decades of deployment "were not in vain" after the Taliban retook control.

Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and Thomas Drew speak during a meeting in London. Reuters

But current and former officials slammed government failings, suggesting many more Afghans could have been rescued.

The Observer leftwing broadsheet cited a whistleblower as saying thousands of emails from MPs and charities to the foreign ministry highlighting specific Afghans at risk from the Taliban takeover went unopened.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has already been strongly criticised for not immediately leaving a beach holiday when the Taliban took control.

The Observer said it saw evidence that an official email account set up by the Foreign Office to receive such pleas regularly had 5,000 unopened emails last week.

Britain ended its evacuation flights on Saturday. AP

It said these included messages from ministers' offices and the leader of the opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer.

"They cannot possibly know (how many people have been left behind) because they haven't even read the emails," the whistleblower was quoted as saying.

The Foreign Office responded that its crisis team worked 24/7 "to triage incoming emails and calls".

Officials have given varying estimates of how many eligible Afghans did not board evacuation flights, the last of which left Saturday, with the head of the UK armed forces General Sir Nick Carter putting this "in the high hundreds".

The Sunday Times rightwing broadsheet quoted an unnamed minister as saying: "I suspect we could have taken out 800 to 1,000 more people".

The same minister slammed Raab, claiming he "did nothing" to build ties with third countries from which Afghans might enter the UK.

The Foreign Office acknowledged that Raab had delegated calls to his Afghan counterpart while saying he recently called his Pakistani counterpart.

The damning reports came after the Times reported last week that it found contact details of staff and job applicants left behind at the British embassy compound in Kabul, potentially endangering them.


Related articles