UK

First Afghanistan refugees fleeing Kabul arrive in UK as 100 councils pledge to resettle families

More than 100 local councils have pledged their support in rehoming displaced Afghans as the first RAF rescue mission for those fleeing Kabul landed in the United Kingdom last night. 

Local authorities across the country, from Wiltshire to Northumberland, have committed to taking in displaced Afghans as Boris Johnson launched plans to resettle up to 25,000 refugees over five years. 

At least 240 refugees have already arrived in England since the fall of Kabul per reports, with passengers disembarking an RAF Voyager A330 aircraft at RAF Brize Norton, Oxon, last night.

Families fleeing Afghanistan have been rehomed in West Yorkshire, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Surrey and Melton in Leicestershire, as more than 100 local councils have so far pledged to provide accommodation if needed.

Council leaders and mayors in Liverpool, London, Kent and Essex have all shared strong statements promising to provide support in their communities in the wake of the Taliban’s devastating advance to Kabul. 

Some 370 UK embassy staff and British nationals were flown out by the RAF on Sunday and Monday, adding to the 289 Afghan nationals transported last week. 

A further 350 Britons and Afghans should be taken out of the country in the next 24 hours – but the pace will need to be stepped up dramatically if those at highest risk are to get to safety. 

Women, girls and those facing persecution will get priority as some 20,000 are granted the right to live in the UK – with 5,000 expected in the first year. 

At least 240 refugees have already arrived in England per reports, with West Yorkshire housing the vast majority with 174 as local authorities across the country pledged their support

The new Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme will focus on women and girls who fear their rights will be trampled under the 'Islamic Emirate' declared by the Taliban

The new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will focus on women and girls who fear their rights will be trampled under the ‘Islamic Emirate’ declared by the Taliban

Boris Johnson will run the gauntlet of MP fury about the meltdown in Afghanistan this morning when he addresses the recalled House of Commons

Boris Johnson will run the gauntlet of MP fury about the meltdown in Afghanistan this morning when he addresses the recalled House of Commons

Afghans allowed to come to the UK will be distributed across the country. Pictured: British nationals and Afghan evacuees arrive on a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire

Afghans allowed to come to the UK will be distributed across the country. Pictured: British nationals and Afghan evacuees arrive on a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire

Local authorities have been asked to support efforts to relocate approximately 3,000 displaced Afghans in the coming weeks

Local authorities have been asked to support efforts to relocate approximately 3,000 displaced Afghans in the coming weeks

US troops, backed by British SAS and Royal Marines special forces, are guarding the 7.8-mile perimeter with snipers on rooftops, as well as machine gunners and armored cars on the runway. Meanwhile, truck-loads of Taliban fighters are outside the airport and manning the gates into the airport armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers.

US troops, backed by British SAS and Royal Marines special forces, are positioned at the 7.8-mile perimeter with snipers on rooftops, as well as machine gunners and armored cars on the runway. Meanwhile, truck-loads of Taliban fighters are outside the airport and manning the gates into the airport armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers

A British soldier stands guard as British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan are loaded on to an evacuation flight at Kabul Airport in an undated photograph

A British soldier stands guard as British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan are loaded on to an evacuation flight at Kabul Airport in an undated photograph

Priti Patel immediately dismisses calls from Tory MPs to DOUBLE Afghan refugee intake to 40,000 – as PM faces wrath of recalled Commons TODAY over military meltdown 

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor for MailOnline   

Priti Patel today batted away Tory calls to more than double the government’s vow to take 20,000 Afghan refugees – but said the number of interpreters and support staff given safe haven will rise.

In a round of interviews as the desperate evacuation effort continues in Kabul, the Home Secretary dismissed criticism of the new resettlement scheme, saying it represents an ‘enormous effort’.  

Women, girls and those facing persecution will get priority as some 20,000 are granted the right to live in the UK – with 5,000 expected in the first year.

Meanwhile, Ms Patel said an existing programme designed to protect Afghan translators and other workers who were employed by British forces will be expanded from 5,000 people to around 10,000.

However, senior Conservatives have suggested that the UK should be accepting ‘north of 50,000’ refugees, and there has also been criticism of the pace.  

Ms Patel said the circumstances were ‘very difficult’. 

‘We have to ensure we have the support structures throughout the United Kingdom. We will be working with local councils throughout the country, the devolved governments as well,’ she told Sky News.

‘We are working quickly on this. We cannot accommodate 20,000 people all in one go. Currently we are bringing back almost 1,000 people a day.

‘This is an enormous effort. We can’t do this on our own. We have to work together.’

She insisted that it was right to set an initial figure of 20,000 for the coming years, although it could rise in the future. 

‘We have got to come up with the actual infrastructure, the support, the resettlement,’ Ms Patel told BBC News.

‘We are going to be working with all partners. We could end up bringing many more but first of all we have to have the underpinning and the infrastructure and the support to do that.’

Ms Patel said that double the 5,000 originally announced could be admitted under the existing Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

‘There could be up to 10,000. We are expanding categories of people,’ she said.

‘We are working with the MoD on the ground. We are working with partners on the ground to identify these individuals.

‘We are working night and day. I am sending in Home Office officials, Border Force officials, to the region to help support this scheme as well.’ 

Local authorities have been asked to support efforts to relocate approximately 3,000 displaced Afghans in the coming weeks.  

Downing Street has already received more than 2,000 accommodation promises from 104 councils, the Times reports. 

Afghans allowed to come to the UK will be distributed across the country, the Government indicated last night. 

A spokesman said it would work with the devolved administrations and local councils to make sure Afghans get help to rebuild their lives.

Boris Johnson last night announced that up to 20,000 Afghans will be given the right to live here under a new Afghan resettlement programme – with 5,000 expected in the first year.

An additional 5,000 will be allowed to move to the UK under an existing programme designed to protect Afghan translators and other workers who were employed by British authorities.

A previous scheme for Syrian refugees cost about £8,000 per person – so the new commitments are likely to come with a huge price tag of up to £200million.  

Several local authorities have committed to taking in an undisclosed amount of refugees. 

Birmingham City Council has been in talks with the Home Office since June, with plans to rehome 80 Afghan refugees in private rented housing.

The local authority will receive more than £1million in funding to provide a year’s worth of support to those who are rehomed – including assistance finding accommodation, school places, medical support, National Insurance credentials  and other benefits.

Migration Yorkshire said more than 200 people will be arriving in the county through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance policy. 

Cllr Gerry Anderson, leader of Ashford Borough Council in Kent, has already spoken with the Home Office to take in families under the proposed resettlement scheme.

It is understood that approximately 10 families a year will be rehomed in the town.

Cllr Anderson told Kent Online: ‘These people are going to be useful contributors to the country. They’re going to get jobs and they’re mainly English speaking.

‘People may condemn it and gripe about it but frankly I don’t give a damn about that because I think the vast majority of people who are intelligent, reasonable and sensible will realise that what we’re doing is really the right thing to do.’

Similar commitments have been made across the country, with Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson, Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and council leaders in Newcastle, Essex, Wiltshire and more promising to assist in the relocation plans. 

A collective of Labour-run council leaders in 22 London boroughs, from Barking to Waltham Forest, released a joint statement on the Afghan refugee relocation effort.

They said: ‘We urgently call on the Government to implement a national refugee resettlement scheme programme with target numbers from Afghanistan with proper support and funding to aid delivery, so that local authorities can plan effectively and provide sanctuary.

‘We will work closely with London’s Afghan community and with our voluntary sector and national government to ensure refugees get the support they need to recover from the trauma they have lived through and start to rebuild their lives.’

Meanwhile, in other nations within the UK, Wales Labour tweeted: ‘In Wales, we will play our part in providing sanctuary for those facing persecution. 

The Welsh Labour Government is working with the UK Government and our councils to help Afghan refugees.’ 

More than 2,000 former Afghan staff, including translators and their families, have already resettled in the UK since June, according to Sky News.

Afghans who apply to come to Britain are being rigorously checked for links with radical Islamist groups and crime.

But applicants will not be automatically barred from coming here if questionable activities – known as a ‘security triggers’ – emerge in the vetting process.

A scheme has been operating since April to relocate Afghans who worked for the British authorities.

After examining more than 3,300 claims, the Home Office has identified ‘very few’ cases in which applicants pose a national security risk, it is understood.

Security sources said last night that Afghans who apply for UK visas are vetted for Islamist sympathies. Other checks include any involvement in sex crimes or violent offences. 

But one told MailOnline that there were no ‘automatic thresholds’ that would lead to refusal, and each application was decided on a case-by-case basis. 

Wales Labour tweeted: 'In Wales, we will play our part in providing sanctuary for those facing persecution. The Welsh Labour Government is working with the UK Government and our councils to help Afghan refugees.'

Wales Labour tweeted: ‘In Wales, we will play our part in providing sanctuary for those facing persecution. The Welsh Labour Government is working with the UK Government and our councils to help Afghan refugees.’

Priti Patel today batted away Tory calls to more than double the government's vow to take 20,000 Afghan refugees - but said the number of interpreters and support staff given safe haven will rise

Priti Patel today batted away Tory calls to more than double the government’s vow to take 20,000 Afghan refugees – but said the number of interpreters and support staff given safe haven will rise

‘We’ll take 25,000 refugees’: Boris Johnson says thousands fleeing Afghanistan will be given right to live in UK

Up to 25,000 Afghans in danger from the Taliban will be allowed to come to Britain in one of the most generous resettlement schemes in the country’s history.

Boris Johnson last night announced that up to 20,000 will be given the right to live here under a far-ranging new scheme – with 5,000 expected in the first year.

An additional 5,000 will be allowed to move to the UK under an existing programme designed to protect Afghan translators and other workers who were employed by British authorities.

The new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will focus on women and girls who fear their rights will be trampled under the ‘Islamic Emirate’ declared by the Taliban.

It will also offer help to those forced to flee their homes and to religious minorities in the country. They will be given the right to stay in the UK permanently.

A previous scheme for Syrian refugees cost about £8,000 per person – so the new commitments are likely to come with a huge price tag of up to £200million.

Mr Johnson said: ‘We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years. Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help.

‘I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK.’ But the PM stressed he wanted to share responsibility with other nations to prevent a ‘humanitarian emergency’ in Afghanistan.  

 An RAF rescue mission repatriating British nationals and Afghan evacuees fleeing Taliban tyranny landed at Brize Norton last night – but thousands more trapped in Kabul were left fearing for their lives.

The passengers touched down in Oxfordshire as UK troops try to repatriate at least 6,000 British personnel and translators from the Middle Eastern country after it fell to Taliban militants last week.

But British forces are scrambling to evacuate another 1,000 UK nationals and Afghan refugees from Kabul today as thousands remain trapped in the city amid a fragile truce with Taliban militants encircling the city’s airport.

Armed Forces chief General Sir Nick Carter said the next 24 hours were ‘critical’, with fears of mayhem if crowds of desperate people attempt to rush the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

In Hamid Karzai International Airport on Tuesday, Islamists opened fire on a crowd of Afghans trying to flee Taliban rule, with harrowing images showing a young child with a bloodied head being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road.

At least 12 military flights took off from Kabul on Tuesday, including three UK planes as the Ministry of Defence aims to ferry up to 7,000 Britons and Afghan allies out.

Most are heading to other stable parts of the Middle East, where passengers catch charter flights back to Britain.

There are at least 56,000 people who need evacuating from Afghanistan – including 22,000 flying on US special immigrant visas, 4,000 British nationals, 10,000 refugees Germany has said it will accept, and 20,000 bound for Canada. 

In reality, that number is likely to be far higher once diplomatic staff from other countries with relations with Afghanistan’s former government are taken into account.  

The new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will focus on women and girls who fear their rights will be trampled under the ‘Islamic Emirate’ declared by the Taliban.

It will also offer help to those forced to flee their homes and to religious minorities in the country. They will be given the right to stay in the UK permanently.

Mr Johnson said: ‘We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years. Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help.

‘I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK.’ 

But the PM stressed he wanted to share responsibility with other nations to prevent a ‘humanitarian emergency’ in Afghanistan.

‘The best solution for everyone is an Afghanistan that works for all Afghans. That means the international community coming together to set firm, political conditions for the country’s future governance.’

Up to 25,000 Afghans in danger from the Taliban will be allowed to come to Britain in one of the most generous resettlement schemes in the country's history

Up to 25,000 Afghans in danger from the Taliban will be allowed to come to Britain in one of the most generous resettlement schemes in the country’s history

Boris Johnson announced that up to 20,000 will be given the right to live here under a far-ranging new scheme – with 5,000 expected in the first year

Boris Johnson announced that up to 20,000 will be given the right to live here under a far-ranging new scheme – with 5,000 expected in the first year

FALL OF KABUL: A TIMELINE OF THE TALIBAN’S FAST ADVANCE AFTER 40 YEARS OF CONFLICT

Feb. 29, 2020 Trump negotiates deal with the Taliban setting U.S. withdrawal date for May 1, 2021 

Nov. 17, 2020 Pentagon announces it will reduce troop levels to 2500 in Afghanistan

Jan. 15, 2020 Inspector general reveals ‘hubris and mendacity’ of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan 

Feb 3. 2021 Afghan Study Group report warns against withdrawing  ‘irresponsibly’

March Military command makes last-ditch effort to talk Biden out of withdrawal 

April 14 Biden announces withdrawal will be completed by Sept. 11 

May 4 – Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province. They also attack in at least six other provinces

May 11 – The Taliban capture Nerkh district just outside the capital Kabul as violence intensifies across the country

June 7 – Senior government officials say more than 150 Afghan soldiers are killed in 24 hours as fighting worsens. They add that fighting is raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces

June 22 – Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south. The UN envoy for Afghanistan says they have taken more than 50 of 370 districts

July 2 – The U.S. evacuates Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night 

July 5 – The Taliban say they could present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as August

July 21 – Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country’s districts, according to the senior U.S. general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance

July 25 – The United States vows to continue to support Afghan troops “in the coming weeks” with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks

July 26 – The United Nations says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009 

Aug. 6 – Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years. Many more are to follow in the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north 

Aug. 13 – Pentagon insists Kabul is not under imminent threat 

Aug. 14 – The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 70 km (40 miles) south of Kabul. The United States sends more troops to help evacuate its civilians from Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is consulting with local and international partners on next steps

Aug. 15 – The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul

Taliban insurgents enter Kabul, an interior ministry official says, as the United States evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter

 

 Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scheme would allow the ‘most vulnerable’ Afghans to ‘start a new life in safety in the UK, away from the tyranny and oppression they now face’.

‘We will not abandon people who have been forced to flee their homes and are now living in terror of what might come next,’ she added. 

Security sources said last night that Afghans who apply for UK visas are vetted for Islamist sympathies. 

Other checks include any involvement in sex crimes or violent offences. 

But a security source said there were no ‘automatic thresholds’ that would lead to refusal, and each application was decided on a case-by-case basis.

Ministers had promised to set up a ‘generous’ and ‘world-leading’ programme to resettle those fleeing the new Taliban regime.

Miss Patel was last night due to hold an emergency meeting with members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance that also includes the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 

She would press for ‘international collaboration on setting up safe and legal routes for Afghan refugees, a source said.

The new Afghan programme will be modelled on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme which launched in 2014 in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UNHCR identifies potential cases for the UK to consider and applicants are then vetted by British officials.

The UK can reject cases on ‘security, war crimes or other grounds’, according to Home Office guidance. 

World leaders have shown varied reactions to the plight of Afghans. French president Emmanuel Macron came under fire last night after he said France would ‘protect’ itself from migrants fleeing the crisis in Afghanistan.

He faced accusations that he was letting down ordinary Afghans after he pledged a robust European approach against illegal migration.

Greece took a similar approach yesterday as it said it would not become ‘the gateway of Europe’ for Afghans fleeing the conflict.

The country was on the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 and, like other EU member states, it is nervous developments in Afghanistan could trigger a replay of the situation.

Yesterday, Taliban leaders held an extraordinary press conference to proclaim the group’s return to government and to portray the outfit as a new, modernised force.

During an astonishing 40-minute appearance, they said there would no revenge, their opponents will be ‘pardoned’ and women will be allowed to work and study as a ‘very important part of society’.

But on the streets of Kabul, the reality of life under Taliban rule was setting in, with ‘terrified’ women reportedly confined to their homes, and militants going door to door hunting for ex-government workers.

This year alone, the Taliban have murdered seven Coalition Forces translators, with many more wounded. The father of a US translator was also shot dead yesterday according to his family. 

Around 1,700 so-called locally employed staff who worked with British forces and their family members have now been approved to come to the UK. A further 200 are having their claims assessed.

But while many are at Kabul airport waiting for a flight out, many more are in hiding in the city or elsewhere in the country, too terrified to brave the streets. 

As the Taliban tighten their grip, they face an uncertain future.

Last night, an interpreter called Ahmed shared his harrowing story. He said: ‘My wife and I were hiding in the basement of a storeroom, but the man who gave us shelter got scared when the Taliban were nearby and asked us to leave.

‘We are about half a mile from the airport. Now we have found somewhere else, a private place. I have to speak quietly because the Taliban checkpoint is nearby. 

‘Other interpreters are hiding nearby, they have children with them, so it is worse for them.

‘The Taliban have positioned their gunmen at the airport and are demanding to see paperwork and visas. Apparently they let you through if your papers are valid but I do not trust them. A mistake now could cost us our lives.’

A previous scheme for Syrian refugees cost about £8,000 per person – so the new commitments are likely to come with a huge price tag of up to £200million

A previous scheme for Syrian refugees cost about £8,000 per person – so the new commitments are likely to come with a huge price tag of up to £200million

Scramble to save 1,000 from Kabul TODAY: Britain will fly seven more mercy mission flights into Afghan capital over ‘critical’ 24 hours… but Army chief hints rescue is ‘dependent’ on ‘collaboration’ with Taliban 

By Rory Tingle and Jack Wright for MailOnline and Marc Nicol and David Williams and John Stevens for the Daily Mail

British forces are scrambling to evacuate another 1,000 UK nationals and Afghan refugees from Kabul today as thousands remain trapped in the city amid a fragile truce with Taliban militants encircling the city’s airport.

Armed Forces chief General Sir Nick Carter said the next 24 hours were ‘critical’, with fears of mayhem if crowds of desperate people attempt to rush the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

NATO forces are utterly reliant on the Taliban to allow evacuees through their checkpoints – even as former British Army translators speak to being targeted by kill squads seeking to avenge their work for the West.

It came as panicked screams mixed with the sound of gunfire at Kabul airport today amid fresh chaos as thousands of Afghans pleaded with troops to be allowed on the only planes out of the country.

General Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, this morning insisted the evacuation was going ‘relatively smoothly’ but hinted the rescue operation was dependent on ‘collaboration’ with the Taliban.

‘We hope to get around 1,000 people out today and we’ve got about seven aircraft going in,’ he told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.

‘There are a lot of challenges on the ground, not least because there are a lot of desperate people trying to get to the airport.

‘Subject to the situation remaining calm which the Taliban are working hard to achieve alongside us then the system will work, we believe.’

Asked about the West’s reliance on Taliban cooperation to allow evacuees to leave, he added: ‘So far people are coming forward. Obviously as we get to the higher numbers it may become more challenging, but let’s wait to see what happens. At the moment we are collaborating with the Taliban on the ground, who are providing security.’

Later on Sky News, in comments that provoked fury, General Carter suggested the Taliban had ‘changed’ and were seeking an Afghanistan that was ‘inclusive for all’.

British rescue missions have already begun arriving at RAF Brize Norton, with passengers seen disembarking from a Voyager A330 aircraft last night. The UK is aiming to repatriate at least 6,000 people from Afghanistan after it fell to Taliban militants last week.

Military personnel board a Royal Air Force Airbus A400M transport plane, after arriving by bus at RAF Brize Norton yesterday, as Britain sends 900 soldiers back to Afghanistan over the coming days to help with repatriations and evacuations

Military personnel board a Royal Air Force Airbus A400M transport plane, after arriving by bus at RAF Brize Norton yesterday, as Britain sends 900 soldiers back to Afghanistan over the coming days to help with repatriations and evacuations

British nationals and Afghan evacuees are seen walking on the tarmac at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last night

British nationals and Afghan evacuees are seen walking on the tarmac at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last night 

This morning, women were filmed reaching their hands through iron railings towards US troops while screaming ‘the Taliban are coming’ in footage being circulated on Afghan social media accounts. 

Taliban gunmen have now surrounded the airport – the only route out of Afghanistan for thousands of refugees stranded in the capital and nearby provinces – and are checking the documents of those trying to reach it. 

Islamist fighters were funnelling people towards a gate on the airport’s civilian south side, demanding documents before occasionally allowing someone to pass. Each time the gate opened, dozens tried to rush inside – with gunshots fired to keep them back. 

Meanwhile more footage revealed crowds hard up against concrete perimeter walls on the airport’s military north side, with shots being fired over the heads of men, women and children to keep them back.

Afghan translators and other visa holders trying to reach the airport have told MailOnline that they are actually in hiding near the airport, afraid to break cover and try to reach the runway in case the Islamists haul them away. 

Others who have braved the gates told of how they were crushed, trampled and molested amid the crowds – without making it on to a flight.

In a sign of how dire the situation has become, White House spokesman Jen Psaki was forced to admit Tuesday that there is no guarantee that all US citizens and visa holders will be able to leave the country before troops pull out on August 31.

 ‘Our focus right now is on the task at hand, and that is day by day getting as many American citizens, SIV applicants, as many of the vulnerable population who are eligible to be evacuated to the airport and out on planes,’ she told a press conference.

Flights that were supposed to be carrying thousands of people out of the country each day have so-far been taking off with just a few hundred aboard, with the UK evacuating some 370 people between Sunday and Monday.

General Sir Nick Carter, head of the UK armed forces, told BBC Radio 4 that Britain ‘hopes’ to get 1,000 people out today with seven evacuation flights going into the country – though was forced to admit that is only possible due to ‘collaboration’ with the Taliban.

He also flatly denied reports that people are struggling to get to the airport, saying: ‘Subject to the situation remaining calm, which the Taliban are working hard to achieve alongside us, the system will work.’ 

A man carries a bloodied child, as a woman lays wounded on the street after Taliban fighters use guns, whips, sticks and sharp objects to control a crowd as thousands of Afghans wait outside Kabul Airport

A man carries a bloodied child, as a woman lays wounded on the street after Taliban fighters use guns, whips, sticks and sharp objects to control a crowd as thousands of Afghans wait outside Kabul Airport

Taliban patrolling Kabul, Afghanistan after the capital city fell to the Islamist terror group on Sunday

Taliban patrolling Kabul, Afghanistan after the capital city fell to the Islamist terror group on Sunday

Evacuees on a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, carrying 640 Afghans to Qatar from Kabul on Sunday

Evacuees on a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, carrying 640 Afghans to Qatar from Kabul on Sunday

An RAF flight carrying British personnel and Afghan interpreters to safety touched down in Oxfordshire last night

An RAF flight carrying British personnel and Afghan interpreters to safety touched down in Oxfordshire last night 

The RAF rescue mission repatriating British nationals and Afghan evacuees landed at Brize Norton last night, while thousands remain stuck in Kabul terrified for their lives amid a frenzied international effort to evacuate as many people as possibl

The RAF rescue mission repatriating British nationals and Afghan evacuees landed at Brize Norton last night, while thousands remain stuck in Kabul terrified for their lives amid a frenzied international effort to evacuate as many people as possibl

General Carter was slammed for his comments in a second interview, with Sky News, in which he controversially defended the Taliban and suggested they wanted an ‘inclusive’ country – despite their record of oppressing women and enforcing a brutal version of Sharia law. 

Responding to presenter Kay Burley referring to the militants as ‘the enemy’, he said: ‘You need to be careful when talking about the enemy. What the Taliban are is a disparate collection of tribespeople, as President Karzai put to me only yesterday, they are country boys. 

‘And the plain fact is they happen to live by a code of honour and a standard, it’s called Pashtunwali. It has honour at the heart of what they do… they don’t like corrupt governance or governance that is self-serving and they want an Afghanistan that is inclusive for all.’

‘Except women?’ Burley interjected, to which he responded: ‘We have to wait and see… you have to listen to what they are saying at the moment. I do think they have changed and recognise Afghanistan has evolved and the fundamental role women have played in that evolution. 

‘And yes, they undoubtedly will say they want to respect women’s rights under Islamic law and that will be a Sharia law, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t allow them to be involved in government, education and medicine. So I think we need to be patient and give them the space to show they can step up to the plate.’ 

Responding to the comments, Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: ‘I think that’s a very difficult and unpalatable message’ to Afghans who are ‘very, very fearful about the future’.

Lynne O’Donnell, a journalist in Afghanistan, wrote: ‘Gen Sir Nick Carter calls the murderers, liars, misogynists & drug dealers of the #Taliban ‘reasonable, changed’. And there we were thinking he was a serious person. A fool & apologist, an embarrassment & liability. Shame on you.’

And commentator Isabel Oakshott added: ‘I wonder how all those who served in Afghanistan/lost limbs and loved ones in that godforsaken place feel about Gen Sir Nick Carter now depicting the Taliban as simple ‘country boys’ (his actual words) who want a country that’s ‘inclusive for all’ (his actual words).’ 


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