Afghanistan news live updates: Taliban opens fire as protesters raise national flag in Jalalabad

·29-min read

At least three people are feared dead after the Taliban violently dispersed a protest in eastern Afghanistan.

More than a dozen people were injured in the incident which took place in the city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, according to local witnesses and police.

Residents tried to raise the Afghan national flag and lower that of the Taliban ahead of Afghanistan’s independence day.

Militants then opened fire and beat people with batons according to an Afghan health official.

The Taliban have promised peace following their sweep into Kabul, saying they will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women.

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Ex-Afghan President: I left to avoid bloodshed and didn’t take cash

GB News’ Simon McCoy laughs at Harry & Meghan’s Afghanistan statement

Talking Point: Is 20,000 refugees over five years enough?

Labour’s Lisa Nandy: “Offer to take 5,000 Afghan refugees not generous enough"

20:49 , Anthony France

Lisa Nandy said the UK Government’s offer to take 5,000 Afghan refugees this year was not generous enough.

The shadow foreign secretary, who said Labour would not put a number on how many refugees should be taken, told the BBC’s Question Time: “I don’t think they are on the right track for two reasons.

“One is that it is absolutely clear that 5,000 is too small a number over the next 12 months and we have to make a more generous offer than that.

“The second reason I don’t think this is sufficient is that what became apparent today is that there is absolutely no plan to deliver it.

“The Home Secretary has not picked up the phone to any of the local authorities or mayors who have offered to take refugees.”

James Cleverly: “Risk” UK is less safe from terrorists now Taliban control Afghanistan

20:47 , Anthony France

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said there is a “risk” that the UK is less safe from terrorists now that Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban.

Asked whether the British public were more at risk of terrorism following the Taliban victory, Mr Cleverly told BBC’s Question Time: “There is, of course, that risk.

“This is why the UK’s position had always been that we withdrew when certain conditions had been met, rather than to a specific date or timeline.

“We are going to have to work very closely with countries in the immediate vicinity around Afghanistan and some of those countries are countries we have a very difficult set of relationships with, including Iran for example.

“But none of those countries want to see Afghanistan turn into a terrorist breeding ground.”

Boris Johnson talks to Italian PM Mario Draghi about “urgent” evacuation of nationals

20:04 , Anthony France

Boris Johnson talked his Italian counterpart through his five-point plan for international support for Afghanistan during a phone call on Wednesday.

A Downing Street spokesman said the PM and Mario Draghi shared their understanding of the current situation on the ground and agreed to work together to help the urgent evacuation of their nationals and others.

Lord West: “If Taliban harbour terrorists, Nato will return to smash them.”

19:51 , Anthony France

Ex-Navy chief Lord West of Spithead, a former UK military commander in Afghanistan, said it was unsurprising there was a collapse in Afghan army morale.

“If you tell people they are going to lose, they generally do,” he said.

He added: “The international community cannot allow Afghanistan to become a haven for global terrorists again.

“It needs to be made clear to the Taliban that, if ever Afghanistan harbours international terrorists and training camps, as it did prior to 9/11, Nato will return to smash them and those responsible for allowing them to flourish before withdrawing again.”

Lord West also highlighted the “malign influence” of Pakistan and its ISI spy agency.

He said: “The ISI has been responsible for a great deal of the chaos in Afghanistan. We should make it clear to the Pakistan government that, should Afghanistan become a haven for terrorists and they are implicated, fiscal and diplomatic action will be taken against them.”

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi: Government’s approach to resettling Afghan refugees is a “tragic failure”

19:47 , Anthony France

A Tory peer has said the Government’s approach to resettling Afghan refugees is a “tragic failure” because neighbouring countries are “picking up” where the UK has not.

Baroness Warsi told the debate in the Lords: “It is a tragic failure of our Government and shame of our response that myself and other colleagues are reaching out to colleagues in Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey and other countries to pick up and assist those that assisted us, to give refuge to those that we let down and to protect those that supported us.

“We need our Government to act, not announce, and to act now.”

The baroness, a former Foreign Office minister, praised ​the work of Laurie Bristow, the UK ambassador to Afghanistan, who stayed at Kabul airport to process visas.

She added that the Government needed to detail the “practical process for getting out those that will be killed if we do not act”, instead of relying on “ad hoc” courts.

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani: “I left to avoid bloodshed and didn’t take cash"

19:43 , Anthony France

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has spoken for the first time from exile to say he left to avoid bloodshed.

The exiled president denied reports he had escaped with heaps of money on his person.

Speaking from exile in the United Arab Emirates, he shared a video streamed on Facebook on Wednesday.

“If I had stayed, I would be witnessing bloodshed in Kabul,” Ghani said in his first public comments since it was confirmed he was in the UAE.

Mr Ghani told a Facebook live broadcast, according to translation by Al Jazeera: “What had happened 25 years ago in Afghanistan was going to take place again. That was something that needed to be avoided, a shameful development like that.”

Afghanistan’s president enters UAE on humanitarian grounds

14:49 , Laura Sharman

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family are in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf state’s foreign ministry has confirmed.

The political leader fled Afghanistan saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed when Taliban fighters entered Kabul.

He has been welcomed into the UAE on humanitarian grounds.

“The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” it said in a statement.

Ashraf Ghani recites the oath during his swearing-in at the inauguration ceremony as the country’s leader in March 2020 (AFP via Getty Images)
Ashraf Ghani recites the oath during his swearing-in at the inauguration ceremony as the country’s leader in March 2020 (AFP via Getty Images)

Stop the war protest in pictures

13:28 , Laura Sharman

Protesters gathered at Parliament Square on Wednesday calling for an end to international wars.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those at the Stop The War Coalition protest against the future occupation of Afghanistan.

Demonstrators hold “save Afghanistan” banners in Parliament Square (REUTERS)
Demonstrators hold “save Afghanistan” banners in Parliament Square (REUTERS)
Jeremy Corbyn among protesters at Parliament Square (Getty Images)
Jeremy Corbyn among protesters at Parliament Square (Getty Images)
Parliament Square (REUTERS)
Parliament Square (REUTERS)
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joins the demonstration in Parliament Square (PA)
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joins the demonstration in Parliament Square (PA)

Jeremy Corbyn attends Afghanistan protest at Parliament Square

13:22 , Laura Sharman

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a protest against the future occupation of Afghanistan.

He was joined by Labour MP Richard Burgon at Parliament Square in central London.

The Stop The War Coalition held the protest on Wednesday to call on the government to recognise the war in Afghanistan as a catastrophe.

 (Lucy Young)
(Lucy Young)

Former MI5 boss warns of more terror attacks against West after fall of Afghanistan

13:15 , Laura Sharman

A former MI5 chief has warned of more terror attacks against the West after the fall of Afghanistan to Taliban militants.

The withdrawal of US and coalition forces from the country after two decades will “excite, encourage and spur terrorists” as well as creating a “safe space” for extremists, Baroness Manningham-Buller told Parliament.

The independent crossbencher, who served for more than three decades in the Security Service, including five as director general, made her pessimistic prediction as the recalled House of Lords debated the crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover at the weekend.

Lady Manningham-Buller also highlighted the need “to begin when appropriate a dialogue with the Taliban, however unpalatable, to explore incentives for good behaviour”.

Warning of “two major security concerns”, she said: “First, inspiration. The Taliban victory and its rout of western forces, as it appears, will inspire and embolden those who wish to promote jihad against the West.

“Events over the last few days show that the success of this ideology is possible. That will excite, encourage and spur terrorists.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey branded the Prime Minister a “national liability”

12:26 , Abbianca Makoni

He said: “We need to forge new relationships and not be over-dependent on one ally however important and powerful that ally is and the failure to do that, indeed the backward steps that this Government has taken in that regard in recent years, is one of the reasons why our nation is weaker today than it has been for far too long.”

He added: “So I want to ask the Prime Minister today will he look our injured veterans and the families of the fallen in the eye and tell them it was worth it, now after his foreign policy catastrophe?”

He went on: “Our Prime Minister and his Cabinet cannot escape their culpability for this disaster… From the Prime Minister’s self evident lack of influence and clout in Washington, to his negligent inability yet again to master his brief and plan properly for the withdrawal.

“Today’s occupant of Number 10 has become a national liability.”

MPs across the house took to social media to praise Tom Tugendhat for his emotional statement on Afghanistan

12:05 , Abbianca Makoni

Conservative colleague Dehenna Davison tweeted: “The speech my friend and colleague @TomTugendhat just made in the Chamber is one I will remember for the rest of my life. Tom, thank you for sharing your experiences and reflections. I am so proud to know you.”

Labour’s Wes Streeting wrote: “Britain is very fortunate to have soldiers like @TomTugendhat and Parliament is very lucky to have his wisdom and experience leading the Foreign Affairs Committee. Magnificent and moving speech during the Afghanistan debate.”

And Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone posted: “A most extraordinary, moving speech from my brave colleague @TomTugendhat. He is quite right that the situation in Afghanistan is a harsh lesson. It teaches us how crucial it is that we work collectively with our NATO partners, as opposed to being dependent on just one ally.”

World will be worse if we don’t get involved in world affairs, says Sir Peter Bottomley

11:58 , Abbianca Makoni

In his contribution to the debate on Afghanistan, Sir Peter Bottomley, father of the House and Conservative MP for Worthing West, told the House of Commons: “If we decide we are not going to get involved in world affairs the world will be worse.

“If we decide we are going to have the capability to work with others when we can, and occasionally on our own, that’s fine.

“But as Parliament we ought to be aware that we probably made a mistake in backing Government over one of the Iraq wars, in my view we certainly made a mistake in not backing Government over Syria, and if you compare the number of people who died in Syria, the refugees around the world, compare that with Afghanistan, I think we probably should be ashamed of our vote then over Syria.”

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat’s heartfelt speech

11:55 , Abbianca Makoni

Tonbridge and Malling’s Tom Tugendhat is among a number of ex-forces MPs to be outspoken on the issue of the Taliban, saying the withdrawal of British troops in Afghanistan is the biggest foreign policy disaster in decades.

Tugendhat told the House of Commons that defeat is “when you no longer have the choice of how to help...This doesn’t have to be defeat, but at the moment it damn well feels like it”, as he warned of the “forever war”

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat says Taliban’s takeover has “torn open” wounds

11:49 , Abbianca Makoni

The MP, who served during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, said: “Like many veterans, this last week has been one that has seen me struggle through anger, grief and rage.”

He added: “I’ve watched good men go into the earth, taking with them a part of me, a part of all of us.

“This week has torn open some of those wounds and left them raw, left them hurting.”

He also recalled the efforts of the military, aid workers, journalists and others who worked in the country, before noting: “I know that we’ve all been struggling and if this recall has done one thing… I’ve spoken to the Health Secretary, he’s already made a commitment to do more for veterans’ mental health.”

Mr Tugendhat said it was with “great sadness” that he was to criticise the US, noting: “To see their commander in chief call into the question the courage of men I fought with, to claim that they ran is shameful.

“Those who have not fought for the colours they fly should be careful about criticising those who have.”

Mr Tugendhat suggested the West and the UK had not shown patience, adding: “This is a harsh lesson for all of us and if we’re not careful it could be a very, very difficult lesson for our allies.

“It doesn’t need to be. We can set out a vision, clearly articulate it, for reinvigorating our European Nato partners, to make sure that we are not dependent on a single ally, on the decision of a single leader, that that we can work together with Japan and Australia, France and Germany, with partners large and small and make sure we hold the line together.”

Theresa May defends Biden who was carrying out Trump’s "deal with the Taliban”

11:34 , Laura Sharman

Theresa May was challenged in the Commons that it was US President Joe Biden who decided to withdraw troops from Afghanistan “without agreeing or negotiating a plan with either the Afghan government or the NATO allies.”

To this, she responded: “What President Biden has done is upheld a decision that was made by President Trump.

“It was a unilateral decision of President Trump to do a deal with the Taliban that has led to this withdrawal.

“What we have seen from the scenes in Afghanistan it that it hasn’t been alright on the night.”

Theresa May: All the Taliban had to do was “just sit and wait"

11:25 , Laura Sharman

Theresa May added: “The reality is that as long as this time limit was given and dates were given for withdrawal, all the Taliban had to do was to ensure there were sufficient problems for the Afghan government not to be able to have full control of the country and then just sit and wait.”

Theresa May continues striking commentary on Afghanistan

11:19 , Laura Sharman

Theresa May continued her striking commentary reflecting on how the Taliban have ceased control in Afghanistan.

She told the Commons what has been “most shocking” was the chaos and the speed of the takeover after the prime minister and US president indicated in July that they did not think the Taliban was able to do so.

“Was our intelligence really so poor? Was our understanding of the Afghan government so weak? Was our knowledge of the position on the ground so inadequate?

“Did we really believe this or did we just feel that we had to follow the United States and hope on a win and a prayer that it would be alright on the night.”

Theresa May gives despairing speech on Afghanistan

11:11 , Laura Sharman

Theresa May gave a despairing speech at an emergency meeting on the situation in Afghanistan today.

The former prime minister said not only will Afghans be stripped of their freedoms but many now fear for their lives.

“Twenty years on, 457 British military personnel have died in Afghanistan and many more have suffered life changing injuries.

“Yes, many girls have been educated because of British aid but it is not just that the freedoms once enjoyed will now be taken away.

“There are many, many Afghans, not just those who worked with British forces, who are now in fear of their lives.

“It is right that we should open up a refugee scheme but we must make absolutely certain that it is accessible to all those who need it.”

Theresa May speaks at the Commons debate on Wednesday (PA)
Theresa May speaks at the Commons debate on Wednesday (PA)

Labour leader criticises PM for staying on holiday as Taliban reaches Kabul

11:00 , Laura Sharman

Sir Keir Starmer criticised Boris Johnson for staying on holiday despite news that the Taliban had arrived at the gates of Kabul.

The Labour leader criticised the prime minister for his “appalling judgement” and “complacency” and said “you cannot coordinate an international response from the beach.”

Sir Keir told MPs: “The response of the British ambassador to the Taliban arriving at the gates of Kabul was to personally process the paperwork for those that needed to flee. He is still there.

“The prime minister’s response to the Taliban arriving at the gates of Kabul was to go on holiday.

“No sense of the dramedy of the situation, not leadership to drive international efforts on the evacuation.”

When asked what he would do differently, Sir Keir responded: “I would not stay in holiday whilst Kabul was falling.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking during the debate on the situation in Afghanistan in the House of Commons (PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking during the debate on the situation in Afghanistan in the House of Commons (PA)

Sir Keir Starmer calls for Afghan refugee resettlement plan that “meets the scale of the challenge”

10:46 , Laura Sharman

Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to lead an international response and create an Afghan refugee resettlement programme that “meets the scale of the challenge”.

The Labour leader told the Commons: “The scale of the refugee crisis requires an international response but we must lead it, and lead with a resettlement programme that meets the scale of the challenge.

“The scheme must be generous and welcoming. If it is not, we know the consequences, we know the consequences now: violent reprisals in Afghanistan, people tragically fleeing into the arms of human traffickers - we know this is what will happen - more people risking and losing their lives on unsafe journeys including across the English Channel.

“We cannot betray our friends, we must lead.”

Afghanistan: Despite grim past, the future is not yet written says PM

10:43 , Laura Sharman

The prime minister has urged that the UK must give its all “to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a breeding ground for terrorism.”

However, “no matter how grim the lessons of the past, the future is not yet written,” Boris Johnson told MPs at an emergency Commons meeting.

“At this bleak turning point, we must help the people of Afghanistan to choose the best of all their possible futures,” he added.

In the UN, the G7, in NATO, with friends and partners around the world, that is the critical task on which this government is now urgently engaged and will be engaged in the days to come.”

Taliban will be judged on actions not words, says prime minister

10:37 , Laura Sharman

Speaking at an emergency meeting at the Commons on Wednesday, Boris Johnson said: “We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes and by its actions rather than by its words.

“And on its attitude to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access and the rights of girls to receive an education.”

UK pledges almost half a billion pounds to support Afghan people

10:34 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson confirmed the UK is committing almost half a billion pounds in humanitarian aid to support people of Afghanistan.

“We are committing almost half a billion pounds of humanitarian funding to support the Afghan people,” the prime minister told the Commons.

PM pledges not to deport people back to “nightmare” of Afghanistan

10:30 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson has said the UK will not deport people back to the “nightmare” of Afghanistan.

In the Commons, Labour MP Stella Creasy, Walthamstow, asked: “Can the prime minister also confirm it is not just about people coming out of Afghanistan, it is about keeping people safe here and we will not send people back to this nightmare?”

Mr Johnson replied: “We will not be sending people back to Afghanistan and nor by the way will we be allowing people to come from Afghanistan to this country in an indiscriminate way.

“We want to be generous but we must make sure we look after our own security, and over the coming weeks we will redouble our efforts working with others to protect the UK homeland and all our citizens and interests from any threat that may emanate from a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, from terrorism to the narcotics trade.”

UK will work to unite global community behind “clear plan” for dealing with Taliban situation

10:28 , Laura Sharman

The UK will work to unite the international community behind a “clear plan for dealing with this regime in a unified and concerted way”, according to the prime minister.

Explaining in the Commons, Mr Johnson said: “We are clear and we have agreed that it’d be a mistake for any country to recognise any new regime in Kabul prematurely or bilaterally.

“Instead, those countries that care about Afghanistan‘s future should work towards common conditions about the conduct of the new regime before deciding, together, whether to recognise it and on what terms.

“We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes and by its actions rather than by its words, and on its attitude to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access and the rights of girls to receive an education.

“Defending human rights will remain of the highest priority.

“And we will use every available political and diplomatic means to ensure that those human rights remain at the top of the international agenda.”

UK proud to bring “brave Afghans to our shores”

10:25 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson said the government is proud to evacuate Afghan citizens who risked their lives supporting UK military efforts in Afghanistan.

“We are proud to bring these brave Afghans to our shores and we continue to appeal for more to come forward,” he added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the debate on the situation in Afghanistan (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the debate on the situation in Afghanistan (PA)

Peaceful evacuations from Afghanistan might not last, suggests PM

10:14 , Laura Sharman

The prime minister suggested a peaceful evacuation period could be short lived as the UK rushes to remove its citizens from Afghanistan.

“At the moment in the days we have ahead of us, which may be short, this is an environment in which the Taliban are permitting this evacuation to take place,” he told MPs at an emergency Commons debate.

“These people are interpreters, they are locally engaged staff and others who have risked their lives supporting our military efforts and seeking to secure new freedoms for their country.”

UK secures safe return of 306 nationals and 2,052 Afghan nationals so far

10:08 , Laura Sharman

The prime minister said “we are doing everything we can” to leave the exit door open in Afghanistan and return people to safety.

So far, the UK has secured the safe return of 306 nationals and 2,052 Afghan nationals as part of its resettlement programme, he said at an emergency Commons debate today.

A further 2,000 Afghan applications have been completed and many more being processed, he added.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “We are doing everything we can to help out of that country those people to whom we owe a debt of obligation.

“UK officials are working round the clock to keep the exit door open in the most difficult circumstances and actively seeking those we believe are eligible but as yet unregistered.”

Deploying tens of thousands of troops to fight Taliban not an option, says PM

10:01 , Laura Sharman

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “It is an illusion to believe that there is appetite among any of our partners for a continued military presence or a military solution imposed by NATO in Afghanistan.

“That idea ended with the combat mission in 2014.

“I do not believe that deploying tens of thousands of British troops to fight the Taliban is an option, no matter how sincerely people may advocate it, that would commend itself either to the British people or to this house.”

The prime minister then urged we must now accept “what we have achieved and what we have not achieved.”

Boris Johnson speaks to MPs in the House of Commons (PA)
Boris Johnson speaks to MPs in the House of Commons (PA)

Situation at Kabul airport has stabilised, Johnson assures

09:57 , Laura Sharman

The prime minister assured that the situation at Kabul airport has stabilised after scenes emerged of people clutching onto planes in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson said: “The situation has stabilised since the weekend but it remains precarious.

“UK officials on the ground are doing everything they can to expedite the movement of people.

“At the moment, the Taliban are allowing that evacuation to go ahead.

“The most important thing is that we get this done in as expeditious a fashion as we can.”

The prime minister also expressed gratitude to both UK and US forces in Afghanistan at present.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the debate on the situation in Afghanistan in the House of Commons (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the debate on the situation in Afghanistan in the House of Commons (PA)

UK will do everything possible to avert humanitarian crisis, says PM

09:49 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson told MPs: “We will be doing everything to support those who havehelped the UK mission in Afghanistan and investing everything we can to supportthe wider area around Afghanistan - and to do everything we can to avert ahumanitarian crisis.”

The UK succeeded in its mission to stabilise Afghanistan following 9/11, says PM

09:47 , Laura Sharman

Mr Johnson referred back to September 11, pointing out it is “almost 20 years since the United States suffered the most catastrophic attack at the hands of murderous terrorist groups incubated in Afghanistan.”

The prime minister said the UK agreed to “do whatever we could to stabilise Afghanistan despite all the difficulties and challenges we knew we would face” amid Al-Qaeda.

“And we succeeded that core mission,” he added.

PM said the UK’s “sacrifice in Afghanistan is seared”

09:42 , Laura Sharman

Mr Johnson said “the sacrifice in Afghanistan is seared into our national consciousness” with 150,000 people serving there.

Boris Johnson called to move motion on Afghanistan

09:40 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson has been called to move the motion on Afghanistan in Parliament.

In his opening speech, he noted “the issues it raises for our own security and the fears of many remaining in that country, especially women and children.”

PM opens Commons debate on Afghanistan

09:30 , Laura Sharman

Prime minister Boris Johnson is to open an emergency debate on the Taliban takeover and Western response in Afghanistan.

MPs are holding the emergency meeting in Parliament from 9.30am.

Boris Johnson leaves Number 10 Downing Street to attend Parliament this morning (Getty Images)
Boris Johnson leaves Number 10 Downing Street to attend Parliament this morning (Getty Images)

Taliban Takeover: Troops did not want to fight for their government, says defence chief

09:15 , Laura Sharman

The collapse of the Afghan army in the face of the sweeping Taliban gains came because the troops did not want to fight for their government, the chief of the defence has said.

General Sir Nick Carter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “They did not want to fight for their government any longer and, of course, the Taliban’s information operations machine was very effective. Morale just collapsed.

“We have often seen that in history before, armies can collapse very, very quickly if the momentum is seen to be going so radically against them.”

General Sir Nick added that the removal of foreign support, including airpower, “in a very abrupt way over the course of two or three months was something that was very challenging for them to come back from”.

Greatest risk for UK in Afghanistan is desperate Afghans, says Gen Sir Nick

08:28 , Laura Sharman

The biggest risk to the UK at present is desperate Afghans, according to General Sir Nick Carter.

“I think the greatest risk to us at the moment, other than perhaps the odd renegade element or terrorist attack, is actually desperate Afghans,” the UK’s chief of defence staff told BBC 4 Radio’s Today programme.

“How we control that is the greatest challenge to make sure that we retain calm and order in making sure that the evacuation runs smoothly.”

Next 24 hours could be “pretty critical” for Afghanistan evacuation

08:16 , Laura Sharman

The next 24 hours could be “pretty critical” in evacuating people from Afghanistan, according to the head of the British armed forces.

General Sir Nick Carter said the are “a lot of challenges on the ground” and “we hope to get around 1,000 people out today”.

General Sir Nick, who expected around seven aircraft would be heading to Kabul, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are a lot of desperate people trying to get to the airport, and subject to the situation remaining calm, which the Taliban are working hard to achieve alongside us, the system will work, we believe.”

He added: “At the moment we are collaborating with the Taliban on the ground, who are providing security.

“They are making sure that the centre of Kabul is very calm at the moment and so far we have not had reports of people finding it difficult to get to the airport.”

People wait to be evacuated from Afghanistan at Kabul airport (AFP via Getty Images)
People wait to be evacuated from Afghanistan at Kabul airport (AFP via Getty Images)

Final UK troops set to arrive in Afghanistan for Kabul evacuations

08:11 , Laura Sharman

A final batch of UK troops are set to arrive in Kabul today in efforts to evacuate British citizens and local allies in Afghanistan.

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of defence staff, said some 800 soldiers have been sent and that more troops will not be necessary to complete the evacuations.

“We are going to have on the ground by close of play today the numbers we believe we need,” he told BBC 4 Radio’s Today programme.

“We are working alongside both the Americans and the Turks.

“It will be around 800 or so. At the moment that’s quite adequate for our purposes. We have plenty on standby if we need them.”

Taliban may be more reasonable than in 1990s, says UK’s chief of defence

08:02 , Laura Sharman

The UK’s chief of defence staff has said that the new Taliban may be more reasonable and less repressive than the 1990s regime, having learnt from the last 20 years.

General sir Nick Carter said we must “be patient” and “see what happens” following chaotic scenes of people trying to flee Afghanistan.

“We need to be patient and we need to hold our nerve and we need to see what happens,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It may be that this Taliban is a different Taliban to the one that people remember from the 1990s.

“It may well be a Taliban that is more reasonable, it is less repressive.

“If you look at the way it is governing Kabul at the moment, there are some indications that it is more reasonable.

“We have got to be patient. It may well be that they have learned from the last 20 years like we have learnt form the last 20 years.

“It may be that they believe the civil society that has been created in Afghanistan over the last 20 years should be given a chance to carry on but under their terms.

“So I think we need to be patient and we need to hold our nerve.”

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter (PA)
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter (PA)

Afghanistan: Call for international response to prevent humanitarian disaster

07:42 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson is set to tell MPs that there must be an immediate increase in aid to Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis erupting in the country following the Taliban’s seizure of power.

MPs will return to Parliament from their summer break for an emergency sitting on Wednesday, three days after Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell to the militants on Sunday.

The prime minister and the government have come under increasing pressure over the handling of the downfall of the Western-backed government and the subsequent evacuation of British nationals and local allies.

Mr Johnson is expected to tell MPs of the steps the international community needs to take to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.

This includes the immediate increase in humanitarian aid to the country and the surrounding region as well as a longer-term project to support refugees.

Boris Johnson (PA)
Boris Johnson (PA)

Priti Patel defends resettlement scheme for Afghans

07:39 , Laura Sharman

Home secretary Priti Patel has defended the UK’s scheme to resettle vulnerable Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

The government has faced criticism that it is not moving quickly enough after it said it would take up to 20,000 refugees with up to 5,000 in the first year.

Ms Patel told Sky News: “We have to ensure we have the support structures throughout the United Kingdom. We will be working with local councils throughout the country, the devolved governments as well.

“We are working quickly on this. We cannot accommodate 20,000 people all in one go. Currently we are bringing back almost 1,000 people a day.”

UK prioritising British nationals in Afghanistan as thousands try to flee Taliban

07:32 , Laura Sharman

The UK is prioritising the safety of British nationals as it works to resettle people from Afghanistan.

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “Our priority right now is British nationals. We have to ensure that we get all British nationals outside of Afghanistan.

“This includes people working with the military, NGOs, civil society and family dependants.

“Our plans right now are being developed with regards to the resettlement scheme.”

World must working together to save lives in Afghanistan, says home sec

07:26 , Laura Sharman

Priti Patel said the world must “do this together” when quizzed on the number of Afghan refugees the UK can help.

“This is an enormous effort,” the home secretary said.

“We can’t do this on our own. No country, no government can do this on their own. We have to do this together.”

UK resettlement scheme will bring 20,000 Afghan refugees to UK

07:23 , Laura Sharman

The home secretary has said that the UK’s new resettlement plan will bring 20,000 Afghan refugees from Afghanistan to the UK.

In its first year, it is hoped the new humanitarian route will bring 5,000 refugees to the UK.

Priti Patel explained this is in addition to existing work to bring back and resettle Afghan nationals that have worked alongside British forces,

It is not yet known when the first humanitarian refugees will arrive.

“We need to ensure we have all the support structures,” Ms Patel told Sky News.

“This isn’t jus about bringing people over, this is about resettlement so they can begin a new life in the UK

“We cannot accommodate 20,000 people all in one go.”

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