The UK troops will provide force protection and logistical support for the relocation of British nationals where required, and former Afghan staff who risked their lives serving alongside the UK, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk
About 600 UK troops will be sent to Afghanistan to assist British nationals to leave, the government has announced amid deteriorating security situation in the war-torn country.
In parallel, the number of staff working at the British Embassy in Kabul has been reduced to a core team focused on providing consular and visa services for those needing to rapidly leave the country.
Last Friday the FCDO changed Travel Advice to recommend that all British nationals leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, while commercial travel options remain available.
Any British nationals who are still in Afghanistan are encouraged to contact the Embassy in Kabul as soon as possible for assistance, the government has advised.
The UK troops will provide force protection and logistical support for the relocation of British nationals where required and assist with the acceleration of the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
This will help to make sure interpreters and other Afghan staff who risked their lives working alongside UK forces in Afghanistan can relocate to the UK as soon as possible.
In a statement, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I have authorised the deployment of additional military personnel to support the diplomatic presence in Kabul, assist British nationals to leave the country and support the relocation of former Afghan staff who risked their lives serving alongside us.”
He said the security of British nationals, British military personnel and former Afghan staff is the first priority. “We must do everything we can to ensure their safety.”
The additional military support announced on Thursday will arrive in Kabul over the coming days, he said.
Sir Laurie Bristow, the UK’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, will continue to lead a small team in Afghanistan which will relocate within Kabul to a more secure location. This team will focus on helping remaining UK nationals to leave the country, and is working with international partners to support the Afghan Government.
ARAP, launched on 1 April 2021, has already supported over 3,100 former Afghan staff and their families to start new lives in the UK, with more than 1,800 of them arriving over the last few weeks alone.
In the coming days UK Government will further accelerate work on this scheme to ensure those who are eligible go through the necessary security checks and have the required documentation to travel to the UK.
The government said UK remains committed to Afghanistan and will continue working as part of the international coalition to support the country’s government through our diplomacy, development and counter terrorism work.
This year the UK will provide Afghanistan with more than £100 million of support to improve critical health and education services, it said.
Ghani ready to share power
The Ashraf Ghani-led Afghanistan government on Thursday has offered a “share of power” to the Taliban in a bid to stop the escalating violence in the war-torn country where the insurgent group has captured 10 provincial capitals so far.
ARY News reported that the government had offered a power-sharing deal in which it has also asked the Taliban to end attacks on civilians.
The development came soon after Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said the group had captured Ghazni city, the capital of the eponymous province in Afghanistan’s southeast.
The Afghanistan government, during the extended Troika meeting in Qatar’s Doha has raised grave concerns over the Taliban’s brutal attacks on cities, which have led to war crimes and blatant human rights violations and humanitarian catastrophe in the country, Afghan foreign ministry said.
The extended Doha Troika meeting, comprising the US, Russia, China, and Pakistan, was aimed at resuming meaningful intra-Afghan peace negotiations even as US-led foreign troops finalised their withdrawal from the region.
Meanwhile, Taliban on Thursday claimed to have seized Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city amid US troop withdrawal from the country.
Herat “was also captured,” Sputnik reported citing a Taliban statement.
Buildings in the province, including the police headquarters, came under Taliban control, and government forces “laid down their arms,” it added.
Local media and journalists posted images and videos of Afghan forces fleeing from the city in the western part of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that Taliban has entered Kandahar city. Some local residents told the media outlet that the situation in Afghanistan’s second-largest city was “dire”, as intense fighting rages between rebels and government forces inside the city limits. (with inputs from ANI)
READ MORE-Ghani appoints new chief of army staff