Boris Johnson Reveals 311 Afghans Who Helped UK Have Been Left Behind

PM gives his first figure for those who could not be evacuated despite risk of reprisals from Taliban
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
House of CommonsPA

Boris Johnson has revealed that 311 Afghans who helped the UK military and government have been left behind in the country.

The prime minister told the House of Commons that those unable to be evacuated were part of the Afghan Relocations And Assistance Policy (ARAP) that was set up to help those most at risk of reprisals from the Taliban.

Interpreters, security staff and others employed locally are eligible for the special resettlement scheme, which grants them permanent residence rights in the UK.

But in answer to a question from SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Johnson revealed the latest figure for those who were unable to leave by the end of August deadline for Western troop withdrawal from Kabul.

“As for the question of how many Arap candidates are remaining I can tell him that the total number is 311, of which 192 responded to the calls that were put out,” he said.

“And I repeat, we will do absolutely everything we can to ensure that those people get the safe passage that they deserve using the levers that I have described.”

Those left behind are being urged to use land border crossings into Pakistan and other neighbouring countries, and Boris Johnson and G7 leaders have warned the Taliban that aid to the country will be conditional on safe passage of refugees.

The latest figure for the number of Afghans left behind as part of the ARAP scheme is lower than the “800 to 1,100” previously suggested by defence secretary Ben Wallace.

But some of those previously estimated to have been left in the country are understood to have got out through different routes, while others were in different categories for resettlement.

Johnson committed to answering all emails from MPs calling for assistance with evacuating Afghans by the end of Monday.

“By close of play today, every single one of the emails from colleagues around this House will be answered and thousands have already been done.”

The PM said the government would “shortly” be writing to councils with details on funding for extra school places and long-term accommodation across the UK.

He also said that: “all councils involved [in supporting Afghan refugees] will get the funding they need”.

“Let me say to anyone who we’ve made commitments to and who is currently in Afghanistan: we are working urgently with our friends in the region to secure safe passage and as soon as routes are available we will do everything possible to help you to reach safety.”

But Labour leader Keir Starmer told the Commons: ”Because of this lack of leadership, the government has left many behind to whom we owe so much.”

Starmer called for British troops to receive a medal for their “remarkable” efforts in the operation to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan.

Although the PM won the backing of most Tory MPs, Commons defence select committee chairman Tobias Ellwood said the limits of UK and western influence have been “exposed” by the Afghanistan crisis.

“There’s now a void of leadership in the West and Nato, and if Britain wants to fill that void – as we should do – it will require a complete overhaul of Whitehall to upgrade our strategic thinking, our foreign policy output and our ability to lead.”

In a separate statement, foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed almost 5,000 Afghans who “loyally served the UK and their dependents” were among those evacuated from Afghanistan.

Former minister Chris Bryant told the Commons he has raised 143 cases of Afghans connected with his Rhondda constituency with Raab, Wallace and home secretary Priti Patel.

“Since I sent in those names, one of them has been shot, one has been raped and one has been tortured.

“So people are desperate to try and get the best result for these people.”