World

‘Chaotic’ British response left thousands of Afghans unable to flee the Taliban, whistleblower claims



Britain’s then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab took a number of hours to reply to pressing requests, whereas Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted very important sources had been used to evacuate animals as an alternative of folks, an ex-staffer at the UK’s Foreign Office alleged in written testimony to Parliament revealed on Tuesday.

His damning account paints an image of dysfunction at the coronary heart of Britain’s authorities throughout one of the West’s most pressing crises in current instances, and means that the division’s bureaucratic complacency might have had deadly penalties.
The staffer, Raphael Marshall, stated the division was flooded with emails from folks requesting pressing assist to flee Afghanistan. At the time, crowds of folks had gathered at Kabul airport, desperately searching for a route out of the nation, as US troops ready to withdraw and the Taliban took the metropolis.

“Many of these emails were not read,” Marshall wrote, estimating that between 75,000 and 150,000 folks had requested assist and that solely about 5% obtained it. “It is clear that some of those left behind have since been murdered by the Taliban,” he added.

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Marshall additionally criticized the group of the Foreign Office, claiming that at some factors he was the solely particular person monitoring an electronic mail inbox of evacuation requests.

Turnover of workers “resulted in several hours of chaos while people attempted to work out what was going on,” he added, whereas one colleague “was clearly scared by being asked to make hundreds of life and death decisions about which they knew nothing.”

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Marshall claimed that, at times, he was the only staffer monitoring thousands of emailed evacuation requests.

Marshall additionally stated very important sources had been used to evacuate canine and employees from animal rights NGO Nowzad at Johnson’s request, regardless of the restricted capability at the airport and numerous unfulfilled evacuation requests.

“There was a direct trade-off between transporting Nowzad’s animals and evacuating British nationals and Afghans evacuees, including Afghans who had served with British soldiers,” he stated.

On Tuesday, Johnson vehemently denied ordering the Nowzad evacuations, describing the declare as “complete nonsense.”

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“I think that Operation Pitting, to airlift 15,000 people out of Kabul in the way that we did over the summer, was one of the outstanding military achievements of the last 50 years or more,” Johnson added.

Marshall wrote that “by 21 August, it was inevitable that the vast majority of Afghans appealing to the UK for evacuation would be left behind and that some would be killed by the Taliban.” He recalled one specific senior Afghan soldier, who needed to go away the nation along with his household and whose case had been highlighted to the division by a Conservative lawmaker.

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“I believe this family did not succeed in entering the airport. The bureaucratic delay may have been a factor,” Marshall wrote.

Raab’s response to the Afghanistan disaster had already been closely criticized. He was demoted from his position weeks later.

When particular person evacuation circumstances had been submitted to Raab for approval, “it took several hours for the Foreign Secretary to engage,” Marshall wrote. And when the minister did reply, he requested for some requests to be reformatted, suggesting “he did not fully understand the situation.”

Dominic Raab removed as UK foreign secretary in Johnson cabinet reshuffle

“There was very little time left for anyone to enter the airport, therefore (the) Foreign Secretary’s choice to cause a delay suggests he did not understand the desperate situation at Kabul Airport,” Marshall stated.

Raab beforehand obtained a barrage of criticism when it emerged he was on vacation in Greece as the Taliban took management of Afghanistan. He confronted calls for for his resignation after it subsequently emerged that not lengthy earlier than the fall of Kabul, he requested a deputy to deal with an pressing name with the Afghan overseas minister concerning the evacuation of interpreters who had labored with British armed forces; the name by no means occurred.

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Johnson demoted Raab to Justice Secretary throughout a September reshuffle.

CNN has contacted Raab’s workplace for a response to the claims. In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, he stated Marshall was a “relatively junior desk officer” and defended his then-department’s response. “We did the very best we could, under very difficult conditions … only the US, with a far larger cohort of nationals and people working for them, got out more (people),” Raab stated.

A UK authorities spokesperson instructed CNN in a press release: “Staff labored tirelessly to evacuate greater than 15,000 folks from Afghanistan inside a fortnight. This was the largest mission of its form in generations and the second largest evacuation carried out by any nation. We are nonetheless working to assist others go away.

“The scale of the evacuation and the challenging circumstances meant decisions on prioritization had to be made quickly to ensure we could help as many people as possible … Regrettably we were not able to evacuate all those we wanted to, but our commitment to them is enduring.”


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