The UK Government must take full responsibility for leaving people behind in Afghanistan following the conclusion of the airlift in the country, the SNP says.
The final UK troops and diplomatic staff were airlifted from Kabul on Saturday, drawing to a close Britain’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan and a two-week operation to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies.
Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Laurie Bristow, who had been processing those fleeing the country at the airport until the last moment, was among those who landed at RAF Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire on Sunday morning.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, urged Boris Johnson’s government to do more to support Afghan refugees and those at risk of violence under the Taliban regime.
The SNP is also calling on the Prime Minister to increase the number of refugee the UK is willing to take.
Blackford said: “I pay tribute to and thank the brave men and women in our armed forces that worked tirelessly to evacuate those they could in the time they had.
“But the fact remains the UK government has had eighteen months to prepare for its withdrawal from Afghanistan – it should have done more sooner.
“And the Foreign Office has serious questions to answer over the fact that thousands of emails detailing urgent cases of Afghans were ignored. It is shameful that in their moment of need, countless Afghan pleas were ignored by the UK government.
“UK ministers must accept their share of responsibility and do more to support the many Afghan citizens who are clearly in danger, and have been left behind in fear for their lives, safety and human rights.
“It is crucial that Boris Johnson commits to substantially increase the number of Afghan refugees the UK is willing to take, works to secure safe routes for resettlement for Afghan refugees and reverses the 78% cut to bilateral aid to Afghanistan. Aid to Afghanistan should never have been cut in the first place as troops were withdrawing.
“The UK Parliament must be recalled immediately so MPs can scrutinise the UK government’s actions – or lack of action – in this foreign policy disaster, and the Prime Minister can set out what steps he will take next to support those left behind. The SNP will continue to press for Boris Johnson to significantly increase support for Afghan refugees and those in need of help.”
In a video uploaded to Twitter on Sunday morning, Johnson praised the more than 1,000 military personnel, diplomats and officials who took part in the operation in Afghanistan.
He said: “UK troops and officials have worked around the clock to a remorseless deadline in harrowing conditions.
“They have expended all the patience and care and thought they possess to help people in fear for their lives.
“They’ve seen at first-hand barbaric terrorist attacks on the queues of people they were trying to comfort, as well as on our American friends.
“They didn’t flinch. They kept calm. They got on with the job.
“It’s thanks to their colossal exertions that this country has now processed, checked, vetted and airlifted more than 15,000 people to safety in less than two weeks.”
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