‘Almost all’ British nationals who want to leave Afghanistan have returned to Britain says Raab

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Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

Almost all single nationality UK citizens who want to leave Afghanistan have been brought home, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed. 

Speaking to Sky News this morning (Wednesday) the Foreign Secretary said a further 2,000 people had been airlifted out of Kabul airport in the past 24 hours, taking the total number evacuated since the operation began in mid-August to more than 9,000.

Mr Raab said:

“Mono-nationals, so single-nationality UK who have got documentation, the lion’s share, almost all of them that want to come out have been brought home.

“The ones that are remaining, and we have done an amazing job, two-and-a-half thousand UK nationals if you go back to April… what remains are rather complex cases, large family units where one or other may be documented or may be clearly a national, but it’s not clear whether the rest of them are.”

However, the pressure to save British allies such as interpreters and their families is intensifying by the hour after US President Joe Biden rejected calls to delay his Aug 31 exit date from Afghanistan.

Dominic Raab would not give a “precise timeline” for when Operation Pitting – the name given to the British military operation currently ongoing to evacuate British nationals and eligible Afghans from Afghanistan – would draw to an end. But reports suggest it could start winding up this week in order to give the military time to begin pulling out troops and equipment.

He said:

“The military planners will work out how much time they need to withdraw their equipment, their staff, and what’s really important is we will make the maximum use of all the time we have left.

“The system is operating at full speed, at full capacity and we will use every last remaining hour and day to get everyone we can back, the British nationals, the Afghans who worked so loyally for us, we are getting the Chevening scholars back, also women’s rights defenders and journalists.

“We will work to the end of August, but we will take back from that, you step back from that, the time that we need to withdraw our military operation.

“I can’t give you the precise details because we want to make sure we use every last hour and day to keep this rate up.”

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said it would not make sense to try to secure Kabul airport with British troops after the US pulls out.

“It’s not about effectively whether I could fly in thousands of troops and secure the airport.

“Yes I could do that, I could probably secure the airport for a few months, or maybe a year or two,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But for what purpose? For them to be shot at, attacked, people not to get to the airport and to trigger just a permanent fight? I don’t think that is a solution.”

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