Death of detained UN paramedic 'would have severe impact' on Afghanistan, warns mediator

Kevin Cornwell is suffering from 'life-threatening' kidney issues and is in need of immediate hospital treatment, says non-profit group negotiating with the Taliban on his behalf

Kevin Cornwell, who is being detained in Afghanistan. PA
Powered by automated translation

A British man being held in Afghanistan is seriously unwell and in need of immediate hospital treatment due to “life-threatening” kidney issues, according to a non-profit group negotiating with the Taliban on his behalf.

Kevin Cornwell, 53, is one of three Britons detained in Afghanistan.

Scott Richards, co-founder of the UK-based Presidium Network, which is negotiating for two of the three men, told The National Mr Cornwell suffers from kidney issues, which have worsened significantly.

Mr Richards said they were aware Mr Cornwell was receiving “some degree of pain relief,” but only recently became aware of the severity of his condition.

“Both kidneys are in poor state, but his right kidney was meant to receive hospital treatment, and without doing so will occlude,” he said.

“Occlusion will lead to sepsis which would be fatal. Mr Cornwell is anticipated to require immediate hospital treatment subsequent to his release.

“We are now in a very different situation, where a misunderstanding is now directly life threatening, and the potential death of a foreign national over a misunderstanding, who was on a humanitarian mission, would have a severe impact on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

Mr Cornwell and an unnamed manager of a hotel for aid workers in Kabul were arrested following a search of their rooms in the Darya Village hotel in Kabul in January, when a pistol was discovered in a safe. The owner had a licence, which was produced.

“Over the past few weeks we have systematically addressed statements coming from Afghanistan, some understood to be official and others speculative,” said Mr Richards.

“We demonstrated first that Mr Cornwell worked for the UN and was a paramedic in response to statements that he was a journalist and in Afghanistan on other purposes.

“Last week we issued the license for the weapon along with a photograph of the pistol where serial numbers match. We have demonstrated consistently and supported by evidence that this is a misunderstanding.”

Mr Cornwell and the hotel manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, are being held alongside self-professed “danger tourist” Miles Routledge.

Miles Routledge, in Afghanistan. PA

He recently returned to Afghanistan after being evacuated during a holiday in the country in 2021 when the Taliban returned to power.

Mr Routledge, 23, was reportedly arrested in March by Taliban fighters along with two Polish citizens.

In a post on social media, he said he had been arrested for withdrawing $1,000 from Western Union.

He has gained notoriety by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online.

The Presidium Network is not acting as a negotiator on his behalf.

Updated: April 24, 2023, 2:32 PM