First military airlifts since Kabul evacuation bring more Afghans to UK

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says the flights will be the first of many to help those at risk

More than 100 Afghans have arrived in the UK after being airlifted out of a neighbouring country by the RAF.

Two evacuation flights arrived in the UK carrying Afghans and British nationals, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

While repatriation flights and individual relocations have been taking place since the end of August, the two airlifts were the first military relocations since the end of the evacuation from Kabul, known as Operation Pitting.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the flights mark the beginning of more rescue missions to help those in need.

“In August we worked tirelessly to airlift more than 15,000 vulnerable Afghans and British nationals from Kabul to the UK," he said.

“As I made clear at the time, our commitment to the Afghan people did not end there. We are determined to do right by those who supported our Armed Forces for so many years and others who are at risk.

“These flights mark the beginning of what will be an enduring effort to relocate and support those who need our help.”

The MoD said more than 102 people had left Afghanistan from the unnamed third country across two flights, which have both now landed in the UK.

The department said those on board – vulnerable Afghans who fall under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) who are eligible for relocation to the UK, and British nationals – will now receive support, if needed.

Further flights are due to arrive in the UK in the coming weeks, with more eligible people on board.

On Saturday, Sweden's minister for international development co-operation, Per Olsson Fridh, said Afghanistan was on the brink of economic collapse.

"My concern is that the country is on the brink of collapse and that collapse is coming faster than we thought," he said, adding that economic freefall could provide an environment for terror groups to thrive.

The 27-country European Union, which includes Sweden, has increased humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since the Taliban came back to power but has halted its development assistance, a measure taken by many other countries and the World Bank.

The Red Cross on Friday urged the international community to engage with the Taliban, saying aid groups on their own could only provide temporary solutions.

Updated: October 23rd 2021, 12:09 PM