A flight of Afghan RAF translators and others who escaped the Taliban is due to land in the UK on Friday, Britain’s largest evacuation since the end of the Kabul airlift in August.
Between 30 and 40 people are expected to disembark at RAF Brize Norton, after leaving Afghanistan by a route that the Defense Ministry wishes to keep confidential to protect future evacuees.
It is understood that periodic evacuation flights involving military transport planes could now continue for several weeks, picking up all those eligible to come to the UK, in the latest effort to save those at risk.
The plans have not yet been officially announced, but several defense sources have confirmed that new evacuations have started. More details are expected to emerge as the plane lands and Parliament could be updated when MPs return next week.
Boris Johnson said last month that 311 Afghan translators with the right to come to the UK with their immediate families have not left the country, although other figures suggest the total number of unresolved complaints is much more high, at 6,800.
It is less certain how many managed to cross borders to neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Uzbekistan and could still make it to an evacuation point outside of Afghanistan.
Britain has not been able to transport people directly from Afghanistan since the chaotic airlift ended in August, although Qatar sent British troops last month. The UK has repeatedly pressured the Taliban to allow those wishing to leave the country to leave the country safely, including during a meeting in Kabul this month.
Afghan translators who helped the British during their 20 years in Afghanistan have an unlimited right to relocate to the UK as they risk retaliation from the country’s new rulers, although they must demonstrate that they assisted the British Army during this period. period.
The ministers pledged to allow any other so-called special case – figures from civil society or government considered to be at serious risk – who have been “recalled or specifically authorized to evacuate” but who were unable to board the vessel. flights, to retain their right to resettle if they can find a way out of Afghanistan.
Their numbers, which are said to include former judges, government employees and women’s rights or gay rights activists, were collected by the Foreign Office during a chaotic summer period. But ministers never publicly disclosed how many were on that list.
They are expected to be part of the cohort of 5,000 the UK has pledged to welcome in the first year of the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Program, which has yet to be opened. . Announced by Johnson in August, it is expected to accommodate 20,000 over four years.
The UK is also ready to evacuate Afghans by pretending to resettle in other allied countries, continuing a policy put in place during the emergency airlift in August. About 15,000 were transported by the RAF, including 5,000 British and 8,000 Afghans, the remainder being third country nationals.