RAF airlifts 102 people who had fled Afghanistan to UK

·2-min read

The RAF has airlifted more than 100 people who had left Afghanistan and were in a neighbouring third country to the UK.

The Ministry of Defence said the two flights had landed safely in the UK carrying 102 people who would receive support to begin their lives in Britain.

Repatriation flights and individual relocations have been running since the end of August, but this was the first military relocation of eligible Afghans and British nationals since the end of the Kabul evacuation.

Among those airlifted were vulnerable Afghans who come under the the UK government’s relocations and assistance policy, a scheme for former locally employed staff and British nationals.

More flights are scheduled to arrive in the UK in the coming weeks.

The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said the flights “mark the beginning of what will be an enduring effort to relocate and support those who need our help”.

“In August we worked tirelessly to airlift more than 15,000 vulnerable Afghans and British nationals from Kabul to the UK. As I made clear at the time, our commitment to the Afghan people did not end there.

“We are determined to do right by those who supported our armed forces for so many years and others who are at risk.”

The MoD said the UK was working with international partners to make sure that as many routes as possible were available for those eligible and that the flights signify the start of “the next chapter of that effort”.

The ministry said the Home Office would process and support the newly arrived Afghans, who would be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK with funding allocated for schooling and healthcare.

The Foreign Office has also helped nearly 100 British nationals to leave Afghanistan on Qatari flights since the UK’s last Kabul evacuation in August.

The news comes as Human Rights Watch said Taliban officials had forced thousands of people from their homes and land, breaking international law under which collective punishment is illegal.

Many of the people targeted were members of the Shia Hazara community and others had connections to the former Afghan government. HRW said that property and land seized in this way was often redistributed to Taliban supporters.

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