Efforts to evacuate Britons and eligible Afghans from Kabul are gathering pace, the British ambassador says, with nearly 6,000 flown out on UK flights since 13 August.

Sir Laurie Bristow, who remains in the Afghan capital, said 1,000 people had departed in a 14-hour period alone.

It comes after the government said seven Afghan civilians died in chaotic crowds outside the airport on Saturday.

The US is under pressure to extend evacuations beyond the end of August.

The Ministry of Defence said the total figure stands at 5,725 people – 3,100 of whom are Afghan nationals and their families.

Sir Laurie, speaking from the evacuation handling centre in Kabul, praised the efforts of all those helping – including soldiers, diplomats and Border Force staff – but added “there is still a huge amount of work to do”. He said he was “so proud of what our people are doing”.

Earlier, armed forces minister James Heappey said the Taliban were now marshalling queues at the airport, speeding up the process.

“Today the queue is flowing better,” Mr Heappey said on Sunday, adding that the Taliban were overseeing separate UK and US evacuation queues, which was “making a big difference”.

He urged more people to come forward if they had been told to do so.
Until now a lot of people had been put off going to Baron Hotel in Kabul, where many British nationals have been told to travel for processing, because of reports of violence and chaotic scenes, he said.

Leaders of the G7, including US President Biden, are meeting virtually this week to discuss the situation.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years”.

The UK, which holds the leadership of the group at the moment, had called for Tuesday’s meeting.

Mr Johnson spoke to ruling emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Sunday, Downing Street said. The pair agreed it was vital that Afghan people continue to be supported, and that the international community fully funds the aid response, it said.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged Mr Johnson for more details on what he has done to extend the evacuation period. In a letter to the prime minister, he said there were “too many unanswered questions” about the mission, adding: “Proper planning for the coming days will ensure that no-one to whom we owe so much will be left behind.”

The US has a planned deadline of 31 August for withdrawal from Afghanistan – but President Biden has said troops may stay past this date to help with evacuations.


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