#AceNewsReport – Aug.29: The final flight left on Saturday, bringing to an end the UK’s 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan: More than 15,000 people have been evacuated by the UK since 14 August.
#AceDailyNews says the British ambassador to Afghanistan has arrived home as last UK troops leave Kabul and will arrive home shortly after evacuating more than 15,000 according to the MOD as ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ gets underway as people cannot settle, or work, while their claims are considered: A new effort to resettle former Afghan staff and their families in the UK, has been announced: It will be modelled on the Syrian resettlement programme that saw 20,000 refugees come to the UK between 2014 and 2020. A similar number from Afghanistan are expected over the coming years.
By George Bowden & Katie Wright
#AceDailyNews report said that a suicide bombing near the airport on Thursday resulted in some 170 deaths, including two UK citizens and the child of a British national. US President Joe Biden has warned another attack is highly likely.
Vice Adm Sir Ben Key, who ran the UK’s evacuation, said he would be “very nervous” in saying the withdrawal was a success until all the allies had left.
He said it had been a “tremendous international effort” but it wasn’t “a moment of celebration for us at all”, adding that there was a “sense of sadness” at those left behind.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was a chance to reflect on the achievements of recent weeks and of the last two decades, such as girls’ education and weakening al-Qaeda.
Ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow, who had been processing those fleeing the country at the airport, was among those who landed at RAF Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire on Sunday morning.
The flight came via the United Arab Emirates and further flights carrying military and civilian personnel are expected later.
Vice Adm Key, chief of joint operations, said that while he “pays testament” to everything achieved by British forces over the last two weeks, “we know that there are some really sad stories of people who have desperately tried to leave that – no matter how hard our efforts – we have been unsuccessful in evacuating”.
Speaking at RAF Brize Norton, he said the 31 August deadline imposed by the Taliban prevented them evacuating more people “who had helped us so wonderfully and courageously over the last 20 years”.
Photos of exhausted UK service personnel in aircraft coming back from Kabul showed how “deeply tired” they were having “given their all over the last two weeks”, he said.
“Some of the pictures that have come back in the last few days have painted a really good impression of just how desperate and difficult those conditions have been in the last few weeks.
“They have been sleeping in rough conditions, eating off ration packs and their sole motivation has been to help as many of the Afghans and British entitled personnel as they possibly could.”
He added that he had the most “enormous admiration” for what they have done.
No 10 said the number of people evacuated included about 2,200 children, with the youngest just one day old.
About 5,000 British nationals and their families were airlifted, alongside more than 8,000 Afghan former UK staff and their families and those considered at risk from the Taliban.Boris Johnson: “It’s the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes”
In a letter to the armed forces community, Mr Johnson acknowledged the fall of Kabul to the Taliban would have been hard for them to watch.
He added it would be “an especially difficult time for the friends and loved ones of the 457 service personnel who laid down their lives” during the war.
The prime minister said the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan “kept al-Qaeda from our door for two decades and we are all safer as a result”.
‘String of strategic errors’
Lord Dannatt, who was head of armed forces between 2006 and 2009, told BBC Breakfast: “It’s a big moment because it’s the end of a military chapter – a chapter that’s ended not in the way we would have wished.”
He said the soldiers involved in the evacuation process at Kabul airport had done “a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances” but he said it was a “tragedy” that some people eligible to come to the UK had been left behind.
He said there should be an inquiry into the UK’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan to look at the “string of strategic errors”, including the manner of the evacuation, which he said could have started several months ago and been done “in a more calm and considered way”.Getting the plane out of Afghanistan was “happiest moment of my life”
The US is continuing evacuations ahead of the 31 August deadline for foreign troops to leave the country.
The UK’s embassy in Kabul has suspended its operations and will relocate to Qatar. “We continue to provide only limited consular assistance remotely,” it said.
What happens to Afghan refugees coming to the UK? Arrivals on official flights enter a 10-day Covid quarantine in a hotel: Government officials and local authorities are trying to find them permanent homes as shortage of suitable accommodation means many will be placed in hotels Some will get refugee status and can live in the UK permanently:
OTHERS will get a five-year visa to live and work in the UK – and can then apply for permanent residence Afghans arriving independently will enter the normal system for asylum claims – which has a backlog of 70,000 peopleThese
Support will include help with integration and dealing with trauma, free English language courses, and assistance with health, education, accommodation and employment.
#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Aug.29: 2021:
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