More than 7,000 evacuated from Afghanistan by UK military mission

·3-min read
Photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the UK Armed Forces who continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport.(LPhot Ben Shread/MoD/PA Wire) (PA Media)
Photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the UK Armed Forces who continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport.(LPhot Ben Shread/MoD/PA Wire) (PA Media)

The UK has evacuated more than 7,000 people from Afghanistan as part of the rescue mission begun less than two weeks ago.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Operation Pitting, the military evacuation that began on Friday August 13 has so far extracted 7,109 people out of Kabul

The figure includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) programme and a number of nationals from partner nations, the MoD said.

It said Operation Pitting has seen more than 4,226 Afghan individuals and their families evacuated.

It’s really important for people to understand the United States have over 6,000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw that will take away the framework… and we will have to go as well

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

More than 1,000 UK Armed Forces personnel have been deployed in Kabul.

The MoD said the evacuation process will run as long as the security situation allows in coordination with the US.

No firm date has yet been set for the end of evacuation flights, it added.

The Mod said the Armed Forces have continued to fly in and distribute aid to support UK and Afghan nationals going through the evacuation process, including providing water, baby wipes and pre-made baby milk, sanitary packs, blankets and colouring books.

Earlier on Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Kabul evacuation effort is “down to hours now, not weeks” as he conceded Britain’s involvement will end when the US leaves Afghanistan.

US President Biden signalled on Sunday that he did not want US armed forces to stay beyond August.

G7 leaders are due to meet virtually on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters in Fort George, near Inverness, Mr Wallace said: “The Prime Minister is, obviously at the G7, going to try and raise the prospect of seeing if the United States will extend.

“It’s really important for people to understand the United States have over 6,000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw that will take away the framework… and we will have to go as well.

“I don’t think there is any likelihood of staying on after the United States. If their timetable extends even by a day or two that will give us a day or two more to evacuate people.

“Because we are really down to hours now, not weeks, and we have to make sure we exploit every minute to get people out.”

On Monday morning the armed forces minister, James Heappey, said approximately 1,800 UK nationals and more than 2,200 Afghans who helped British forces are the “focus” of the Government’s evacuation efforts from Afghanistan.

Mr Heappey said 1,821 people had been evacuated on eight flights in the past 24 hours.

He added that the numbers of people which the UK wanted to evacuate from “Afghan civil society” had “grown significantly” in recent weeks, in an effort to resettle those who may face recrimination from the Taliban.

But the minister also warned the UK will not be able to evacuate everyone it hopes to.

Mr Heappey said: “The fact is we will get out as many as we possibly can but we have been clear throughout that there is a hard reality that we won’t be able to get out everybody that we want to, and that it is very important that we start to reassure people in Kabul – because I know that people in Afghanistan are acutely aware of what is being said in our media in the UK – that the airlift is not the only route out of Afghanistan, not the only route to the UK.”

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