25 August 2021

UK troops help 11,000 leave Afghanistan as evacuation deadline approaches

25 August 2021

More than 11,000 people have now been evacuated from Afghanistan by UK troops.

New figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) showed that 11,474 people had been able to leave the country since the evacuation mission Operation Pitting began on August 13.

This includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan relocation and assistance policy (Arap) programme, as well as some evacuees from allied countries.

The Arap programme is designed to allow those Afghans who helped the UK forces and therefore are at risk of persecution by the Taliban to leave the country.

The MoD said the UK has evacuated almost 7,000 Afghan individuals and their families.

However, the PA news agency understands nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for Britain need to be airlifted out of Kabul as the evacuation operation enters its final days.

Passengers disembarking an RAF Voyager after arriving at RAF Brize Norton from the Middle East (SAC Samantha Holden RAF/PA) (PA Media)

As well as the almost 2,000 people eligible under Arap, an unidentified number of “special cases” may be eligible for evacuation, such as LGBTQ advocates, judges and human rights activists.

The number of British citizens who still need evacuating, as well as those who hold dual citizenship, also remained unclear.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “every hour” will be used to help people flee and declined to rule out UK forces having to depart by the end of Friday.

In the US, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that evacuations can continue until the end but conceded that they will have to prioritise moving out US military capability in the “last couple of days”.

He said more than 4,400 American citizens have been evacuated thus far.

More than 80,000 people, mostly Afghans, have been airlifted by the US since August 14, he said.

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