Dominic Raab says Brits stuck in Afghanistan face ‘challenge’ to get home
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said it will be a “challenge” for British nationals left in Afghanistan to find a route back home to the UK.
Raab spoke to Sky News, saying the number of British nationals who had not been evacuated during the UK’s evacuation mission was in the “low hundreds”.
Acknowledging it was “unclear” when the airport in Kabul would again be operating again – following this weekend’s pullout of US and UK troops. Dominic Raab said people seeking to leave the country could find a route to the UK via neighbouring countries.
Raab said, since April, more than 17,000 British nationals, Afghans who worked with the UK, and other vulnerable people had been evacuated from Afghanistan.
But there are still people stuck in Afghanistan.
“Most of those are difficult cases where it’s not clear around eligibility because they’re undocumented,” Raab said.
“We’ve now put in place the arrangements with third countries, or we’re putting them in place.
“I’ve spoken to some of the key third countries, so have other ministers, to make sure we can have a workable route through for those outstanding cases.”
When he was asked if UK nationals still in Afghanistan should head across one of the countries borders, Raab said: “It depends if they are eligible or not and, of course, we’re in contact with them to be able to establish that.
“That’s made more difficult because we don’t have the base at the airport.
“Certainly if they’re eligible British nationals, there are embassies in those third countries – whether it’s Pakistan or one of the stans.”
Mr Raab said it would be a “challenge” for British nationals in Afghanistan to reach one of the country’s borders now the Taliban have control.
He said the UK would hold the Taliban to its “explicit assurances” that it “must allow safe passage not just for our nationals but other Afghans, particularly vulnerable ones, who wish to leave”.
Since US troops pulled out of Afghanistan on Monday, a day earlier than planned, the Taliban have now taken control of Kabul’s airport.
Mr Raab said there was “a degree of scepticism” about the group’s “capacity to run that airport safely.”
“We know that some countries are trying to help them with that effectively functional capacity,” he said.
“Of course the previous government had air traffic controllers and things like that. But at what stage that will be ready and viable for international travel, at this point, is unclear.”
He added: “What support they get and how quickly they can then salvage a functional operational capacity remains to be seen.
“Which is why we’re making sure – working with those third countries, working with our embassies – that, actually, if people can get to the border, we can process those cases.”
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