UK's ambassador posts video from Kabul amid evacuation pushAugust 18, 2021
Our Man in Kabul – who opted to stay in the city to personally process visas – vows to put ‘everything’ he can into getting thousands of Brits and Afghan allies to safety… but suggests they might only have days left for the evacuation
- UK’s ambassador Laurie Bristow has been speaking from the Afghan capital
- He’s managing evacuation of Brits and Afghan allies from airport with small team
- Warns that they are working on the basis of ‘days not weeks’ to get everyone out
The UK’s ambassador today vowed to put ‘everything we can’ into evacuating thousands of Britons and Afghan allies from Kabul – but suggested the airlift might only have days left to run.
In a video posted on social media, Sir Laurie Bristow said his team at the airport were pulling out all the stops to process applications and get people out.
But he hinted at the time pressures by giving a timetable of ‘days not weeks’ for the intense work. Speaking to reporters, he said how long they had was ‘out of our control’.
‘We’re working on a basis of days not weeks,’ he added.
There are thought to be more than 8,000 people still hoping to be flown out of the country after the dramatic collapse of the government, but the Taliban controls access points around the transport hub.
Armed Forces chief General Sir Nick Carter has said another thousand should be airlifted today and the next 24 hours will be ‘critical’ with fears of mayhem if crowds of desperate people attempt to rush the runway.
In a video posted on social media, Sir Laurie Bristow said his team at the airport were pulling out all the stops to process applications and get people out
Sir Laurie tweeted pictures of the small team still with him in Kabul managing the evacuation
Sir Laurie said ‘hundreds’ of people had already been taken out on military flights
British forces have been shuttling UK nationals and eligible Afghans from Kabul to safety
As well as tweeting pictures of the small team still with him in Kabul, Sir Laurie said: ‘I’ve just stepped out of the evacuation handling centre for a moment. We’re putting everything we can into getting British nationals, and Afghans who have worked with us in the past, out of Afghanistan and to safety.
‘So yesterday we got about 700 people out. We’re trying to scale up the speed, the pace over the next couple of days.
‘We’ll put everything we can on this for the next few days, trying to get out everyone who we need to get to safety as soon as we can.’
There have been claims of tensions between the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office over the response to the crisis, with complaints that most diplomatic staff fled the country early on and Dominic Raab was on a luxury holiday in Crete.
A small Home Office team has also been deployed to help process applications.
Speaking in the Commons this afternoon, Boris Johnson said: ‘Our immediate focus must be on helping those to whom we have direct obligations by evacuating UK nationals together with those Afghans who have assisted our efforts over the past 20 years and I know the whole House will join me in paying tribute to the bravery and commitment of our ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow.’
The Prime Minister went on: ‘I can tell the House that we have so far… secured the safe return of 306 UK nationals and 2,052 Afghan nationals as part of our resettlement programme, with a further 2,000 Afghan applications completed and many more being processed.
‘UK officials are working round the clock to keep the exit door open in the most difficult circumstances and actively seeking those we believe are eligible but as yet unregistered.’
Sir Laurie posted imaged of his team hard at work and still in the Afghan capital’s airport
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