Foreign Secretary praises ‘heroism’ of British ambassador in Afghanistan

17 August 2021, 09:11

Did embassy staff leave on the first plane out of Kabul?

By Emma Soteriou

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has praised the "heroism" of the British ambassador in Afghanistan.

It comes after Sir Laurie Bristow made the decision to stay in Kabul and assist with the processing of visas for those trying to leave the country.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Dominic Raab said: "We have constantly shifted our teams, but ultimately, we have a duty of care to make sure our people on the ground are safe as well.

"What I would point to is the, frankly, heroism of Laurie Bristow, our ambassador, who has stayed in the most difficult, demanding of conditions to lead the effort."

He added: "What we want to make sure is not just the safety of our teams but that we have the right people there to deal with the processing of those different types of claim.

"One is nationality, the other one is 'have you served the UK?' and the checks that need to go in to make sure that the right eligible people are coming in and those that might potentially pose a threat to the UK are not."

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Nick went on to agree with Mr Raab's statement, saying the ambassador was demonstrating "an act of extraordinary bravery".

Mr Raab recognised that the Ministry of Defence were doing a "Herculean job", as were the Home Office and border staff.

"Frankly, I take my hat off to the extraordinary bravery of the Foreign Office team through the most gruelling and demanding conditions," Mr Raab said.

"They've been there a long time - have served their country - and indeed the Afghans who have served us."

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A spokesman for the Prime Minister originally confirmed that Mr Bristow was helping a small team of diplomats still in the country.

The spokesman said: "There are people on the ground who can consider visa applications and there are some rules as regards to those who have family members who can be considered, I think, on a case-by-case basis but we have already removed a large number of Afghan nationals under the ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) scheme and we'll continue to do so."

Mr Bristow was working from the airport in Kabul alongside Home Office staff, diplomatic workers, and the armed services.

Amid attempts to get people out of the country, there has been particular concern for Afghans who worked with British forces during their time in Afghanistan such as interpreters.

There have been worries that they will be among the first targeted by insurgents.