Thousands of Afghans Who Worked With UK Forces Still Stuck in Afghanistan - Reports
02:10 GMT 26.12.2021 (Updated: 21:39 GMT 18.10.2022)
© REUTERS / Ben Shread/UK MOD Crown copyright 2021/HandoutMembers of the UK Armed Forces continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 19-22, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 23, 2021. LPhot Ben Shread/UK MOD Crown copyright 2021/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Thousands of Afghans who had assisted British efforts in Afghanistan before the Taliban* took over are still living in the country, The Independent reports.
British Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has confirmed that of the 311 former UK staff and their family members left behind in Afghanistan, more than half (167) remain trapped in the country, the newspaper said on Saturday.
"We have left thousands behind, not 167. Those are simply the ones who had a response to the ARAP [Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy] programme," former defense minister Johnny Mercer told The Independent. "Those figures are simply the number who were called forward but didn’t make it to the airport."
Interpreters and other local staff who had worked with British forces told The Independent that they are in hiding in Afghanistan with their families because the Taliban is "searching" for them.
Mercer said that "the vast majority" of people who should have been evacuated from Afghanistan under the ARAP program were left behind, because the British scheme was ineffective and thousands didn’t get a response.
"All the ministers know this, but they are determined to move on from our commitments to these people," Mercer said.
In early August, the Taliban stepped up their offensive and entered Kabul on August 15, which led to the collapse of the US-backed government. The developments prompted a mass evacuation of foreigners as well as Afghans who had collaborated with or worked for foreign troops and organizations.
On September 7, the Taliban announced the composition of an all-male interim government in Afghanistan headed by Mohammad Hasan Akhund, who served as a foreign minister during the first Taliban rule. Akhund has been under UN sanctions since 2001.
*The Taliban is an organisation under the UN sanctions over terrorist activities