Afghanistan: UK evacuation of Kabul enters final hours with '150 Brits' left behind

27 August 2021, 07:35 | Updated: 27 August 2021, 09:13

No further people will be called forward to Kabul Airport, the MoD said.
No further people will be called forward to Kabul Airport, the MoD said. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

The UK's efforts to get people out of Afghanistan have entered their final hours and no further people will be processed to leave the country, it was announced today.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a statement: "No further people will be called forward to the airport for evacuation.

"Following our pre-planned timetable, processing facilities inside the Baron Hotel in Kabul have been closed. This will enable us to focus our efforts on evacuating the British nationals and others we have processed and who are at the airport awaiting departure."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our top priority as we move through this process will be the protection of all those involved who are operating in a heightened threat environment.

"It is with deep regret that not everyone has been able to be evacuated during this process."

Mr Wallace told LBC that some people would be left behind by the evacuation, estimating up to 150 British nationals could be left behind in Kabul. He added that up to 1,100 Afghans eligible for evacuation under the Arap scheme could also be left in Kabul.

He also said that some equipment such as vehicles will be left behind, but that this will enable UK forces to evacuate more people: "What I ask your listeners to remember is, that landrover probably represented 30 or 40 people we took on a plane instead".

We may leave equipment behind, but people are more important

Read more: ISIS claim responsibility for Kabul attacks and identify one of the suicide bombers

He added: "I am proud of this remarkable achievement from our Border Force, Armed Forces, MOD, FCDO, Home Office who have evacuated over 13,000 people in 14 days during Operation Pitting.

"We will continue to honour our debt to all those who have not yet been able to leave Afghanistan. We will do all that we can to ensure they reach safety.

“The abhorrent attacks of last night remind us all of the sacrifices that have been made over the last 20 years. I send my deepest condolences to the relatives of those lost."

A statement from the MoD said: "there is still an ongoing and serious threat of terrorist attack at the airport. We are therefore advising people not to travel to the airport at this time."

Read more: Afghanistan: 13 US troops and scores of Afghan people die in Kabul airport suicide attack

The announcement comes after the tragic double attack in Kabul last night, carried out by terror group Isis-K, in which at least 90 people were killed and 150 injured. No UK citizens are among the reported casualties, but 13 US military personnel were killed.

Mr Wallace told LBC that some of the US personnel killed died trying to save others: "I know those US Marines, in their last moments, were trying to tackle the suicide bomber."

Isis-K, an offshoot of the Isis organisation, have since claimed responsibility for the attack and named one of the attackers, a suicide bomber, as Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri. The group said that they had targeted American troops and their Afghan allies in the attack.

In an address last night, US president Joe Biden said that the US will "hunt down" those responsible.

"We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay." He said "these Isis terrorists will not win."

Despite the attacks yesterday and the US warning of possible further attacks today, images from Kabul airport show that crowds have once again massed outside in an attempt to flee the Taliban.

According to the Defence Secretary, there are around 1,000 UK nationals inside the grounds of Kabul Airport left to be evacuated. It is thought that this includes military personnel.

He added that the evacuation is in its "final hours".

Read more: Animal rescuer Pen Farthing blames Biden after he's turned away from Kabul airport

How could details of locally employed Afghans be left behind?

In total, the UK has evacuated 13,708 people from Kabul Airport so far. In the last 24 hours alone the figure was almost 1,500 people on nine different flights.

The British processing centre at Baron hotel is now officially closed. Yesterday, the British army increased their perimeter by around 300 metre around the hotel, which is estimated to have saved many lives in the Isis-K attacks.

Read more: 'We hope you can keep safe': Iain Dale chokes up speaking to activist hiding in Kabul

Some British nationals have struggled to reach Kabul Airport due to the number of people crowding the area. But Mr Wallace stressed that some of those remaining behind never had any intention of leaving Afghanistan.

But he added that the UK has achieved "way above" the number of Afghans it had hoped to evacuate under the Arap scheme, saying that around 10,000 people had escaped the Taliban due to it.

Those who have not been able to make it to the airport have been advised to make their way to a land border and seek evacuation from a third country.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Trump-Hush Money

Prosecutors seek Trump fine over social media posts they say violate gag order

France Sudan Conference

World donors pledge more than two billion euros in aid for war-stricken Sudan

Prince Harry suffers major blow as he loses High Court appeal amid police protection row

Prince Harry suffers major blow as he loses High Court appeal amid police protection row

Climate NOAA Coral Bleaching

Scientists say coral reefs around the world are experiencing mass bleaching

Donald Trump

Trump arrives at court for start of jury selection in historic hush money trial

The attacker is 15, police say

Teenager arrested after Sydney church stabbing, as police officer's jaw broken in 'riots'

Angry crowds gather outside Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Sydney following a stabbing

'Riot' breaks out after second Sydney stabbing with church goers holding attacker 'captive'

Rishi Sunak condemned Iran's actions

Rishi Sunak says Iran sought to 'plunge the Middle East into new crisis' with Israel attack as he urges 'restraint'

Supreme Court Thomas

Justice Thomas misses Supreme Court session with no explanation

Una Crown pictured with her husband Jack

Pensioner arrested on suspicion of murdering 86-year-old Una Crown, who was found dead at home 11 years ago

London's public transport network is vast and comprehensive, but not without its faults...

London's most ‘bizarre and infuriating’ transport quirks including a five-metre cycle lane and ‘labyrinth’ Tube station

Derek Underwood has died aged 78

England and Kent cricket legend Derek Underwood dies aged 78, as county lauds 'one of its greatest ever players'

The former president was seen departing Trump Tower in the direction of the Manhattan Courthouse on Monday morning, where the historic criminal trial is set to commence.

'This is an assault on America': Defiant Donald Trump punches the air as criminal trial begins

Sydney church

Man arrested after reported stabbing at church in Sydney

Police confirmed a man has been arrested

Moment grinning attacker is detained by congregation after Sydney church stabbing that left four injured

Emmanuel Macron has admitted the Olympic opening ceremony may have to be moved from the Seine

Macron says France may move Paris Olympic opening ceremony from 'world first' River Seine location over ISIS threat