Afghanistan evacuation flight lands at RAF Brize Norton

18 August 2021, 05:44 | Updated: 18 August 2021, 05:48

A flight carrying British nationals as well as Afghans has arrived in England
A flight carrying British nationals as well as Afghans has arrived in England. Picture: Alamy Live News

By Daisy Stephens

A flight carrying evacuated UK nationals and Afghans has landed in England as British troops race to get remaining Britons and eligible locals out of Afghanistan.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at about 11pm on Tuesday night, and is one of a number of flights out of the Afghanistan capital Kabul which are expected to arrive in the UK over the coming days.

The Ministry of Defence said the first flight of British nationals and embassy staff arrived at the base on Sunday night.

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The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has advised UK nationals in Afghanistan who are able to safely leave the country to do so "immediately".

Royal Navy Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key said on Tuesday British armed forces were working to evacuate about 6,000 people from Afghanistan via Kabul.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that up to 20,000 Afghans could be given refugee status in the UK – 5,000 of which will be welcomed into the country in the first year.

The scheme will help those most vulnerable to Taliban rules, such as women, children, religious and other minorities, and groups such as journalists and those who have assisted western efforts against the Taliban in the past.

Read more: PM to call for increase in aid to Afghanistan to avert humanitarian crisis

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The Prime Minister, who will address MPs on Wednesday on the crisis in Afghanistan, said: "We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years.

"Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help.

"I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK."

However, opposition parties have said the plans do not go far enough and are too vague to make a difference.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour's shadow home secretary, said the plans “did not meet the scale of the challenge", and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for foreign affairs Layla Moran said: "20,000 should be the starting point of this scheme, not the target."

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Mr Johnson will address Parliament on the UK's work on the crisis in Afghanistan so far when Parliament is recalled on Wednesday.

Other countries, such as Canada and Germany, have also pledged to take in refugees.