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Afghanistan: Former British soldier Ben Slater leading an escape effort after being stranded in Kabul says people are 'desperate'

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A former British soldier has launched a plan to save 400 Afghan nationals and has called on the government to "make a decision" after claiming he was left stranded in the country when his visa failed to be approved.

Ben Slater has travelled hundreds of miles in a bid to lead an escape effort out of Afghanistan after claiming the Foreign Office failed to approve visas for the evacuation of himself and his staff from Kabul airport.

The 37-year-old, who runs his business, Nomad Concepts Group, from the country's capital, told Sky News that he has already got 67 people out of the country.

He told Sky News' international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn his business "completely collapsed" after the Taliban takeover and he turned his attention to helping people escape.

He said: "We were obviously helping a lot of people evacuate, we managed to get 67 people out through requests because we were in the country, and then obviously we changed our decision to evacuate our own vulnerable staff, who were mainly women working in the sectors that are not too popular with the new regime."

After helping others to flee, he asked officials to organise the evacuation of himself and his staff but he says no visas were given to the group, despite claiming all of his staff are entitled to one.

He has since launched his own operation to save 400 Afghan nationals, including himself and his employees, saying people are now "desperate" to escape.

Mr Slater, who served 10 years with the Royal Military Police, added: "We are basically looking forward to trying to get my people moving, which is in excess of 200, and basically we have had to work out creative ways of getting these people out safely.

"The situation we are in now is all the work has been done, we are at a third country point now and we are desperately trying to get the doors open.

"We are waiting for a decision from the powers that be, ie the UK government right now."

Mr Slater's location is not being identified due to security reasons.

Watch: Afghanistan: Surrounding countries must come together to exert 'maximum moderating influence' on Taliban, Raab says

He has called on the British government to "make a decision" on the "activation of visa/services which will activate all consular services including border opening", saying that officials at his location are just "waiting for a phone call" to let his group across the border.

"We are basically just on zero-hour here, we have got a lot of vulnerable people around me that we are trying to keep safe and I want to get them out.

"I just need the British government to make a decision, the Whitehall people make a decision, please.

"We are running out of time, everyone is aware of what the date is and we are not in the best place at the moment."

"I say it is not the time for a slow bureaucratic system, it doesn't work in emergencies, it never does and after the fallout of what happened in Kabul we are just going down the same road again", he added.

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Tuesday marked the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, after a 20-year-long campaign in the country.

Mr Slater said members of the group are "deeply concerned", "worried" and "desperate" and he has been "trying to keep them calm".

"I have done all the heavy lifting, I got everyone where they need to be, paid the money, got things done and I just need people now to get that bloody gate open so we can get through and then do the next phase, which is to repatriate these people, getting these people to a top-five country, ideally the UK.

"Basically I just need the gatekeepers to unlock that door now and then we can get on with the rest of our lives."

Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted it will be a "challenge" for British nationals left in Afghanistan to now find a route to the UK.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Raab said the number of British nationals who had not been taken as part of the now-ended UK evacuation effort was in the "low hundreds".

Acknowledging it was "unclear" when the airport in Afghanistan's capital Kabul would again be operating - following this weekend's pullout of US and UK troops - Mr Raab advised those still seeking to leave the country to find a route to the UK via neighbouring countries.

The Home Office and the Foreign Office have been approached for comment.

Watch: Afghanistan: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Qatar for talks on safe passage for British nationals

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