Final evacuation flight from Nice Britain leaves Kabul; Troops go residence | Nationwide information
LONDON (AP) – The UK ended evacuation flights from Kabul airport on Saturday and began bringing troops home, despite the UK’s chief military officer admitting “we couldn’t get everyone out”.
The UK Ministry of Defense said the last flight for Afghan citizens left Kabul and more flights over the weekend will bring British troops and diplomats home, although they may also carry some remaining British or Afghan civilians.
British Ambassador to Afghanistan Laurie Bristow said from Kabul Airport that it was “time to complete this phase of the operation now”.
“But we haven’t forgotten the people who have yet to leave,” said Bristow in a video posted on Twitter. “We will continue to do everything we can to help them. We have not forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan either. You deserve to live in peace and security. “
A Royal Air Force aircraft carrying British diplomats and soldiers landed at RAF Brize Norton Air Force Base, northwest of London, early Saturday morning. The troops of the 16th Air Raid Brigade were part of a contingent of 1,000 British soldiers stationed in Kabul to operate the airlift.
The UK says it has evacuated more than 14,500 people from Kabul in the past two weeks, but up to 1,100 Afghans who were eligible to enter the UK have been left behind. Some UK lawmakers who have tried to help stranded citizens and their families believe the real total is higher.
“We haven’t been able to get them all out and it has been heartbreaking and there have been some very difficult judgments to be made on the ground,” British Forces Chief General Nick Carter told the BBC.
Foreign citizens from around the world and the Afghans who have worked with them have tried to leave the country since the Taliban quickly took power this month following the withdrawal of most US forces. According to American authorities, more than 100,000 people were evacuated via Kabul Airport.
The desperate, chaotic exodus became fatal on Thursday when a suicide bomber hit a crowd near Kabul airport. According to a preliminary count, the attack killed 169 Afghans and 13 American soldiers. Two British citizens and the child of another Briton were among those killed.
In London, Afghans desperately searched the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association for news from friends and relatives.
Saraj Deen Safi said he has not been able to contact relatives near Kabul airport since the bombing on Thursday. He said he hoped they could reach a safe European country, but he was “desperate” about the lack of news.
While Britain has evacuated thousands of former interpreters and others who have worked with British forces, the London Association’s advisory program coordinator Shabnam Nasimi said she was “devastated” to many others.
“There are many others who have indirectly supported our work there to achieve democracy and free expression and a much better society for Afghanistan,” said Nasimi. “And the fact that we didn’t realize that and have now let these people down. And that includes, for example, journalists and judges who are directly targeted by the Taliban. “
“These people’s future is very bleak,” she said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised on Friday to “move heaven and earth” to get more people from Afghanistan to the UK by other means, although no specific details were given.
British officials are hoping that some people will be able to leave Afghanistan by land to neighboring countries, where their applications to enter the UK could be processed. That depends on diplomatic coordination and cooperation – not least on the part of the Taliban.
Associated Press video journalist Jo Kearney contributed to this story.
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