'Chaotic' and slow British response left thousands of Afghans unable to flee the Taliban, whistleblower claims - CNN
Dec 07, 2021 1 min, 31 secs
Britain's then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab took several hours to respond to urgent requests, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted vital resources were used to evacuate animals instead of people, an ex-staffer at the UK's Foreign Office alleged in written testimony to Parliament published on Tuesday.

His damning account paints a picture of dysfunction at the heart of Britain's government during one of the West's most urgent crises in recent times, and suggests that the department's bureaucratic complacency may have had fatal consequences.

The staffer, Raphael Marshall, said the department was flooded with emails from people requesting urgent help to flee Afghanistan.

At the time, crowds of people had gathered at Kabul airport, desperately seeking a route out of the country, as US troops prepared to withdraw and the Taliban took the city.

"Many of these emails were not read," Marshall wrote, estimating that between 75,000 and 150,000 people had requested help and that only about 5% received it.

Turnover of staff "resulted in several hours of chaos while people attempted to work out what was going on," he added, while one colleague "was clearly scared by being asked to make hundreds of life and death decisions about which they knew nothing."

Marshall also said vital resources were used to evacuate dogs and workers from animal rights NGO Nowzad at Johnson's request, despite the limited capacity at the airport and countless unfulfilled evacuation requests.

"There was a direct trade-off between transporting Nowzad's animals and evacuating British nationals and Afghans evacuees, including Afghans who had served with British soldiers," he said.

On Tuesday, Johnson vehemently denied ordering the Nowzad evacuations, describing the claim as "complete nonsense."

"I think that Operation Pitting, to airlift 15,000 people out of Kabul in the way that we did over the summer, was one of the outstanding military achievements of the last 50 years or more," Johnson added.


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