Sunday, January 16, 2022

Britain evacuates around 6,000 from Kabul as soldiers witness ‘harrowing scene’

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed that around 6,000 people have been evacuated as part of the UK rescue operation in Kabul.

Those repatriated under Operation Pitting include embassy staff, British citizens, eligible under the Afghan Rehabilitation and Assistance Policy (ARAAP) program and a small number of citizens of participating countries.

The evacuation is being supported by 1,000 British soldiers on the ground – including Paras from the 16 Air Assault Brigade as well as other Whitehall personnel.

Brigadier Dan Blanchford, Britain’s senior-most military officer on the ground in Kabul, said British Armed Forces personnel saw “some harrowing scenes”, with at least seven Afghan civilians confirmed to have been killed outside the gates of the airfield in a chaotic crowd .

A total of 5,725 people have been repatriated since the mission began on August 13, of whom 3,100 are Afghan individuals and their families.

The confirmation comes after the Defense Ministry said Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had a phone call with his US counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, to discuss allied efforts in the Afghan capital.

Officials said the pair had a “productive” conversation where they discussed “the close cooperation of UK and US personnel in Kabul and the ongoing evacuation efforts”.

US President Joe Biden has previously indicated that he wants all US troops to leave Afghanistan by August 31, with the last civilian flight ending shortly before that.

The MoD said the evacuation process will go on “as long as the security situation allows for joint coordination with our US partners,” with “no fixed date set” for the end of civilian flights.

Blanchford, Commander of Joint Forces Operations, said the armed forces were supplying aid including food, nappies and baby milk as part of their efforts to bring people to the UK.

“The UK Joint Task Force is on the front end of a massive cross-government evacuation operation, delivering a highly complex and demanding mission in border and difficult conditions,” he said.

“The terrible difficulties that families and individuals face in reaching the airport are obvious and my men and women have seen and witnessed some harrowing scenes.

“I am proud of the work of our armed forces, who have shown professionalism and compassion in challenging situations.

“We are redoubled our efforts to expedite processes and support the most vulnerable.

“To that end, we have purchased and are distributing 30,000 liters of water a day, food for 5,000 people and 2,700 nappies, 3,600 bottles of baby milk and 2,025 sanitary packs.”

They said: “The men and women in the Joint Task Force Forward are working round the clock to help at-risk Afghans and UK entitled personnel and their families to be evacuated from Afghanistan in a safe and controlled manner, as circumstances permit.

“We have also established an evacuation management model that is being used by several other European and affiliated countries and have evacuated nationals from a total of 38 countries.

“Massive efforts have been made at every level of government to achieve this.”

by Patrick Daly

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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