Raab thanks Qatar for helping Britons leave Afghanistan on commercial flight

Foreign secretary thanked Doha for arranging flight that allowed Britons to escape Kabul

Evacuees from Afghanistan arrive at Hamad International Airport in Qatar's capital Doha on the first flight carrying foreigners out of the Afghan capital since the US withdrawal last month. AFP
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More Britons have left Afghanistan on a commercial flight with Qatar Airways to Doha.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said 13 Britons were among around 200 foreigners able to leave Afghanistan, marking the first large-scale evacuation since British and US-led coalition forces left the country.

It is a sign that some movement is being permitted by the Taliban, who have said they will let foreigners and Afghans with valid travel documents leave Afghanistan.

Mr Raab said: “We are grateful to our Qatari friends for facilitating a flight carrying 13 British nationals from Kabul to safety in Doha today.

“We expect the Taliban to keep to their commitment to allow safe passage for those who want to leave.”

Under the watchful eyes of Taliban fighters patrolling the tarmac in Kabul, passengers presented their documents for checking and sniffer dogs inspected luggage laid out on the ground.

Kabul airport was left extensively damaged in the aftermath of the chaotic evacuation in August as international forces withdrew at the end of two decades of war.

Technical experts from Qatar and Turkey were brought in to restore operations and staff at the airport included some who had returned to work following the harrowing scenes during the airlift operation.

The issue of how to help eligible Afghans flee Taliban rule was discussed by interior ministers from G7 countries in London.

Home Secretary Priti Patel urged her counterparts to follow the UK's lead in establishing safe and legal resettlement routes for vulnerable Afghans who are escaping the humanitarian crisis.

A Home Office spokesman said: “She told ministers that Afghan citizens are depending on us and set out how the UK was standing by those who needed our help the most in their hour of need and encouraged all G7 nations to do the same.”

The UK has resettled thousands of Afghans through the established Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy and will welcome an additional 20,000 to Britain through a new programme.

The spokesman said Ms Patel “made clear that the UK would not abandon people who are now living in terror of what might come next and that the British government would warmly welcome and support them in rebuilding their lives here in the UK".

She discussed the European response to the crisis with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

Updated: September 09, 2021, 7:09 PM