British troops evacuated Kabul on Saturday. This ended the U.K.’s 20-year-old military involvement in Afghanistan.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, praised the heroic evacuation effort while acknowledging that some Afghan civilians were left behind. British’s top military officer admitted that it was not possible to evacuate everyone.
Late Saturday, the U.K government announced that approximately 1,000 British troops had conducted an airlift of Afghan civilians and British nationals from Kabul Airport. This was hours after the last evacuation flight for civilians. The United States was not the only country that had left.
Laurie Bristow (Britain’s Ambassador to Afghanistan) stated that it was time to end this phase of the operation before she left Kabul airport.
In a Twitter video, Bristow stated that “but we haven’t forgotten the people still need to go,” We will continue to do all we can to assist them. We have not forgotten about the Afghan people, who are brave and decent. They are entitled to live in security and peace.
Britain claims it has evacuated more 15,000 Kabul residents in the last two weeks, but as many as 1,100 Afghans entitled to travel to the U.K. were left behind. Some British lawmakers have tried to assist stranded constituents, and their families, but they believe that the real number is higher.
“We haven’t been able to bring everyone out, and that’s been heartbreaking,” Gen. Nick Carter, head of British armed forces told BBC.
Since the Taliban’s quick takeover of the country this month, both Afghans and foreign citizens have tried to flee the country. According to American officials, approximately 117,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul airport.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber attacked crowds near Kabul’s airport, causing chaos and death. At last, 169 Afghans were killed and 13 American soldiers were wounded in the attack. Two British citizens, and the child of another Briton were also among the victims.
London: Afghans arrived at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association advice centre, desperate to hear from their relatives and friends.
Saraj Deen Safi stated that he was unable to contact relatives living near Kabul airport after Thursday’s bomb attack. He stated that he hoped they could reach safe European countries, but felt “despondent” by the lack of news.
The U.K. has already evacuated thousands of ex-interpreters and other British personnel, but Shabnam Nasimi (the advice program coordinator for London), said that she was still “devastated” by the loss of many others.
She said, “And this includes journalists and judges, for example, who are directly going be targeted by Taliban.” “The future for these individuals looks very grim.”
Although no specific details were provided, the British prime minister pledged Friday that he would “shift heaven and Earth” in order to bring more Afghans to Britain.
Officials from the United Kingdom hope that some Afghans may be allowed to travel overland to neighboring countries to claim asylum. This will require diplomatic coordination and cooperation, not least from Taliban.
In Afghanistan, approximately 150,000 British troops were deployed in the years following the 2001 invasion to eliminate al-Qaida. 457 U.K personnel also died in that period.
Johnson stated Saturday that the Afghan two-decade deployment was worth it despite its chaotic end.
He stated that this was a time to reflect on all we have done and all we have lost in the past two decades.
Johnson wrote to Britain’s Armed Forces, “Our purpose was to protect the United Kingdom against harm.”