Dominic Raab heads to Afghanistan’s neighbours to hold talks on evacuations
Dominic Raab, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, is heading to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries in a push to rescue stranded British citizens and Afghan allies, as he and the British government have been facing criticism over the chaotic and rushed evacuation effort from the war-ravaged country.
Raab is expected to visit Pakistan for talks on establishing routes out of Afghanistan through third countries, according to the Associated Press.
The British government recently opened a discussion with the Taliban regarding the safe passage of its remaining nationals and allies out of Afghanistan and dispatched senior civil servant Simon Gass to meet with representatives of the Islamic Emirate in Doha.
The government said it has evacuated over 15,000 UK citizens and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul during the last two weeks. These include journalists, women’s rights activists, former officials and extremely vulnerable individuals.
However, defence secretary Ben Wallace said as many as 1,100 Afghans who were entitled to come to the UK, were left behind.
Meanwhile, current and former officials have hit out at the UK government and suggested that many more could have been rescued from Afghanistan in recent months.
But Dominic Raab defended the government’s approach and insisted that Britain had prepared for all eventualities ahead of the Taliban August takeover and will continue to try helping people flee the new regime in Kabul.
“We started planning in June for the contingency of an evacuation and the full drawdown of the embassy,” Raab said as he was being accused by the opposition leaders for failing to cut short a vacation in Greece as the Taliban rapidly advanced to take over Afghanistan. The foreign secretary only came back to London after Kabul fell into the hands of the Islamic Emirate on August 15.
Ahead of his visit to neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Raab also said the Foreign Office is dispatching 15-person “rapid deployment teams” to continue with the evacuation efforts.
(With agency inputs)