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

Analysis: Was US intervention in Afghanistan ever going to end any other way?

2021-12-07 21:17:22

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

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

“Many of those emails weren’t learn,” Marshall wrote, estimating that between 75,000 and 150,000 folks had requested assist and that solely about 5% acquired it. “It’s clear that a few of these left behind have since been murdered by the Taliban,” he added.

Marshall additionally criticized the group of the Overseas Workplace, claiming that at some factors he was the one individual monitoring an e mail inbox of evacuation requests.

Turnover of employees “resulted in a number of hours of chaos whereas folks tried to work out what was happening,” he added, whereas one colleague “was clearly scared by being requested to make lots of of life and dying selections about which they knew nothing.”

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

Marshall additionally stated important sources had been used to evacuate canines and employees from animal rights NGO Nowzad at Johnson’s request, regardless of the restricted capability on 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, together with Afghans who had served with British troopers,” he stated.

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

“I feel that Operation Pitting, to airlift 15,000 folks out of Kabul in the best way that we did over the summer season, was one of many excellent army achievements of the final 50 years or extra,” Johnson added.

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

“I imagine this household didn’t achieve getting into the airport. The bureaucratic delay could have been an element,” Marshall wrote.

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

When particular person evacuation instances had been submitted to Raab for approval, “it took a number of hours for the Overseas Secretary to have interaction,” Marshall wrote. And when the minister did reply, he requested for some requests to be reformatted, suggesting “he didn’t totally perceive the state of affairs.”

Dominic Raab removed as UK foreign secretary in Johnson cabinet reshuffle

“There was little or no time left for anybody to enter the airport, subsequently (the) Overseas Secretary’s option to trigger a delay suggests he didn’t perceive the determined state of affairs at Kabul Airport,” Marshall stated.

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

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 “comparatively junior desk officer” and defended his then-department’s response. “We did the perfect we might, underneath very tough circumstances … solely the US, with a far bigger cohort of nationals and folks working for them, obtained out extra (folks),” Raab stated.

A UK authorities spokesperson informed CNN in a press release: “Employees 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’re nonetheless working to assist others depart.

“The size of the evacuation and the difficult circumstances meant selections on prioritization needed to be made shortly to make sure we might assist as many individuals as potential … Regrettably we weren’t in a position to evacuate all these we wished to, however our dedication to them is enduring.”

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