Sunday, May 5

Over 3,000 Afghans eligible to come back to UK left trapped – as MPs’ name for inquiry into Afghanistan marketing campaign rejected

More than 3,000 individuals eligible to come back to the UK are trapped in Afghanistan, the federal government has admitted.

In 2021, the UK organised a hurried evacuation to get susceptible Afghans and British residents in another country after the Taliban seized management of Kabul.

But responding to a damning report from the Commons’ defence committee – calling the withdrawal “a dark chapter in UK military history” – officers have now confirmed 3,075 who qualify for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy or ARAP scheme stay there.

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The response comes as one other evacuation is happening in Sudan amid a tense ceasefire that continues to carry between warring army factions.

The UK authorities has confronted questions over eradicating diplomats and their households from the nation earlier than serving to different British nationals, and have been additional criticised for taking longer than another European nations to place a plan in place.

But the Foreign Office mentioned 897 individuals had now been evacuated over eight flights as of 4pm on Thursday, and there have been “further flights to come”.

‘Limited worth’ to inquiry

The defence committee – made up of a cross-party group of MPs – launched its report into the withdrawal from Afghanistan in February, and known as for a government-led inquiry into the operation.

Chair of the committee, former defence minister and Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, mentioned the probe ought to “take an unflinching look at where we went wrong”, including: “It is only through this that we can learn the necessary lessons and prevent this from ever happening again.”

But in its response – printed by the committee on Friday – the federal government mentioned that the Ministry of Defence thought “the value of a further wide ranging review of the totality of the Afghanistan campaign is limited, would absorb considerable resource and does not coincide with the now-published Integrated Review” into defence.

‘A chapter that we cannot have realized from’

Mr Ellwood mentioned on Friday that the choice was “frustrating”, including: “At the release of our report, I described the withdrawal from Afghanistan as a ‘dark chapter’ in UK military history.

“Without an intensive, public inquiry, this can be a chapter that we cannot have realized from.”

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Afghanistan exit a ‘humiliation’

The committee’s report additionally raised the problem of these individuals who had been left behind within the nation, together with Afghans who had labored for and supported British forces.

“They are at risk of harm as a direct result of assisting the UK mission,” Mr Ellwood mentioned on the time.

“We can’t change the events that unfolded in August 2021, but we owe it to those Afghans, who placed their lives in danger to help us, to get them and their families to safety.”

Now, the federal government’s response has revealed the total variety of individuals in that place.

‘We are dedicated to discovering them’

“Due to operational security considerations, we are unable to provide specific details on our ongoing relocation efforts inside Afghanistan and with our third country partners,” the assertion mentioned.

“However, a finite number of Afghans are eligible for ARAP and we estimate from [His Majesty’s government] records that fewer than 620 Afghans eligible for relocation to the UK under ARAP remain inside Afghanistan.

“We are dedicated to discovering and relocating them and their relations – roughly 3,075 individuals in whole.”

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Mr Ellwood mentioned these figures have been much more of a cause to carry an inquiry.

“Mass evacuations, while rare, are an eventuality that we must be prepared for,” he mentioned on Friday.

“British citizens and those entitled to refuge on our shores shouldn’t be left trapped in conflict zones with their lives at risk.

“Refusing to interact in a standalone evaluation of the Afghanistan marketing campaign prevents classes from being consolidated and put into motion for future dangers.”

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