First Afghan arrivals land in UK after pledge to take in 20,000 refugees
The first rescue mission carrying Afghan evacuees has landed safely in the UK after escaping the Taliban – as thousands remain trapped in Kabul and fearing for their lives.
The RAF plane, which also carried stranded Brits, touched down in Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at about 11pm on Tuesday.
People were pictured peering through the plane windows and giving photographers on the tarmac below a thumbs-ups before disembarking the Voyager A330 aircraft.
British troops are racing to evacuate around 6,000 people from Afghanistan via the capital Kabul, which fell to the Taliban on Sunday in a devastating sweep of power.
The first flight of British nationals and embassy staff arrived at the base on Sunday night, and more carrying Afghan interpreters and other eligible locals are expected in the coming days.
It comes after horrifying scenes on Monday as crowds desperate to flee the Taliban were filmed chasing down jets along the runway and clinging onto the wheels of a US military plane.
Distressing video showed stowaways plunging to their deaths from one aircraft as it left Kabul
Royal Navy Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key said yesterday that he did not know how much time the armed forces had to rescue all those eligible for evacuation.
He told Sky News: ‘How long have we got to do it? We don’t really know, so every day we are working as hard as we can to bring as many forward into this pipeline as we possibly can.
‘Clearly there is a dynamic political situation running across the city.
‘We make no assumptions about that other than we really can’t afford to pause and wait.’
It comes amid reports of the Taliban beating Afghans trying to flee Kabul.
The airport in the capital city is the only way out of the country. Although the US has secured the airfield itself, the Taliban control the road to it and have set up numerous checkpoints in Kabul’s north.
The Taliban have claimed they are committed to ‘safe passage’ for people who want to leave the airport.
But reports say there has been violence at checkpoints on Airport Road, including photographs of a woman and a child with head injuries who are said to have been beaten and whipped.
US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that while significant numbers of people had been able to reach the airfield, ‘there have been instances where we have received reports of people being turned away or pushed back or even beaten’. Continue reading….