Dominic Raab says the number of Brits left behind in Afghanistan is in the ‘low hundreds’ amid claims 9,000 British allies may be stranded
- Dominic Raab said number of British nationals in Afghanistan in ‘low hundreds’
- He said the UK had brought home 5,000 British nationals since April this year
- However, it remains unclear how many UK allies have been left behind in Kabul
The number of British nationals left behind in Afghanistan is in the ‘low hundreds’, the Foreign Secretary said today.
Dominic Raab said the number of Brits still in the country is ‘now down at a very low level’ after 5,000 were brought home since April this year.
However, it remains unclear how many Afghan citizens who worked for the British Government are stranded after the withdrawal of Western forces was completed.
Ministers had suggested last week that approximately 1,000 Afghans who were eligible to come to the UK may not make it out.
Dominic Raab said the number of Brits still in Afghanistan is ‘now down at a very low level’ after 5,000 were brought home since April this year
It remains unclear how many Afghan citizens who worked for the British Government are stranded after the withdrawal of Western forces was completed
But Whitehall sources told The Guardian that the figure could actually be about 9,000.
The Government has not given a concrete figure, with Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly saying yesterday that it was ‘impossible’ to put a number on how many people have been left behind.
Asked how many eligible people had been left in the country by the UK, Mr Raab told Sky News: ‘Look, of course, we lament the fact that anyone will be left behind.
‘I would just say that since April when we have been planning and instituting this, over 17,000 British nationals, Afghan workers, vulnerable special cases are out.
‘I know that the number of UK nationals, the particular responsibility of the Foreign Office, is now down at a very low level.’
Asked if he could be more specific on how many British nationals were still in the country, he said: ‘Well, low hundreds given that we have taken in total 5,000 out, and most of those are difficult cases where it is not clear around eligibility because they are undocumented.
‘We have now put in place the arrangements with third countries, or we are putting them in place.
‘I have spoken to some of the key third countries, so have other ministers, to make sure that we can make sure that we can have a workable route through for those outstanding cases.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘It’s very difficult to give you a firm figure. I can tell you that for UK nationals we’ve secured since April over 5,000, and we’re in the low hundreds (remaining).’
It is unclear how many of those British nationals who are still in the country have decided to stay of their own volition.
The Government has suggested that eligible people could cross into a third country next to Afghanistan in order to get to Britain now the airlift operation out of Kabul has ended.
But Mr Raab conceded that such journeys could be a ‘challenge’, telling Sky News: ‘Well, that is a challenge which is why we are holding very squarely the Taliban to their explicit assurances, they have made them bilaterally to us, they have made them to other countries… that they must allow safe passage, not just for our nationals but other Afghans, particularly vulnerable ones, who wish to leave.’