Britons in Kabul plead with UK government to fly them home


Britons stuck in Afghanistan or with stranded relatives amid the worsening situation today told of chaotic scenes at Kabul Airport as they were stuck with no food or water and grounded flights.

Desperate people rushed onto the airport runway today as thousands tried to flee after the Taliban seized power, with some trying to cling to the side of a US military transport plane as it took off amid distressing footage. 

Evacuation flights out of Kabul were suspended as at least seven people were killed, with three stowaways falling hundreds of feet to their deaths and hundreds of other people trying to cling to planes along the runway. 

Thousands of terrified people have descended on Hamad Karzai Airport as the UK, US and other Western countries fly out their citizens and diplomats on military aircraft following the Taliban’s lightning victory. 

A London-based Twitter user called Hadi Sharifi posted a series of updates from the crisis-hit airport today, saying that he was one of a group of five stranded families who had been told to try to get a commercial flight.

Mr Sharifi said the earliest flight he could get tickets for was this Thursday but all planes were grounded and his children aged four and eight were being left severely shaken by gunfire that could be heard nearby.

He said he is a British citizen, and also has his nephew who is German citizen, but could find no contact for Germany in Kabul to register if they can schedule a flight – and therefore fears he might get left behind.

Afghanistan tweets

Afghanistan tweets

London-based Twitter user called Hadi Sharifi posted a series of updates from crisis-hit Kabul Airport today, saying that he was one of a group of five stranded families who had been told to try to get a commercial flight

Afghanistan tweets

Afghanistan tweets

Fereba Hafizi, 29, a fashion photographer from Coventry, said her 79-year-old disabled mother was stuck in Kabul and had little hope of flying because she is in a wheelchair and cannot travel without assistance

Afghanistan tweets

Afghanistan tweets

Another Twitter user said roads were blocked and flights were grounded at Kabul Airport, which had left them ‘stuck’

Afghanistan tweets

Afghanistan tweets

Other Twitter users from Britain said they were either stuck in Afghanistan or members of their family were stranded there

Afghanistan tweets

Afghanistan tweets

One Twitter user said British citizens were stuck at Kabul Airport with ‘no food or water’ while others pleaded for help

Afghans sit as they wait to leave Kabul Airport today as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee

Afghans sit as they wait to leave Kabul Airport today as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee

Thousands of Afghans rush to Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul today

Thousands of Afghans rush to Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul today

Mr Sharifi also described watching people ‘dropping off’ of a military plane after it took off, with reports later confirming three stowaways fell hundreds of feet to their deaths in the incident.

He tweeted: ‘With me there are four more families stranded in Kabul. They took our details and told us take commercial flight, but there are not flights, the earliest we had ticket for was Thursday 19. What is the plan for us?’ 

Ex-Marine asks for help so animal rights charity’s staff can leave Kabul 

The founder of an animal rights charity in Afghanistan has urged the British Government to help withdraw his staff from Kabul.

Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine Commando and founder of the Nowzad charity, is campaigning for the Government to have 71 people flown to the UK from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized the capital city.

Pen Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad, who has urged the Government to withdraw his staff from Kabul

Pen Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad, who has urged the Government to withdraw his staff from Kabul

Mr Farthing is currently in Afghanistan with his staff and has said he is determined not to leave the country without them. 

Becoming visibly emotional while describing the current situation in the city, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We have no idea what’s coming next in the next few days, I’m just trying to hold it together.

‘Without a doubt, there has been a complete waste over the loss of life for the last 20 years. What is happening in Afghanistan today is an absolute travesty. 

‘The US and the UK are now giving the world a masterclass in how to completely ruin a country and create a humanitarian crisis.’

He added: ‘I need to get my staff out. There’s been absolutely no communication from anybody in the Foreign Office (about) my Afghan staff, who are now in the most desperate position. They need to be taken out of Afghanistan. They have got to leave because of what we have done to this country. They are in danger.’

The charity has launched a campaign called Operation Ark to fundraise £200,000 to help evacuate Mr Farthing’s staff and the charity’s animals out of the country.

Another Twitter user called @z4k5afi tweeted the Ministry of Defence, saying: ‘Family members are stuck in Kabul Airport and not sure what to do. British citizens who have been registered on the database. They have no food or water. Please shed some light.’

A further social media user, @Rome25838380, said: ‘I am a British national in Kabul. I contacted the embassy two days ago and asked for assistance. They told me they would follow up and then they did not. I am stuck. Roads blocked. Flights grounded.’ 

Fereba Hafizi, 29, a fashion photographer from Coventry, said her 79-year-old disabled mother was stuck in Kabul and had little hope of flying because she is in a wheelchair and cannot travel without assistance.

She added that her mother was low on medication and urged Britain to send more plans and troops to help evacuate people, with the embassy saying people should try to use commercial flights to get to Britain.

Ms Hafizi said: ‘My 79-year-old disabled mother on wheelchair is told by British embassy try to catch a commercial flight. With this crisis at Kabul Airport, is it even possible?’

She said there was ‘no assistance available and embassies shut down’, and urged the Government to ‘please send more planes and troops’ to return UK nationals back to Britain.

Ms Hafizi added that men were pushing their way through to visa desks and women were standing back because of ‘cultural reasons’ and ‘not wanting to be sexually assaulted as it tends to happen in crowds’.

Another Twitter user called Waqar tweeted a message to the Home Office and Home Secretary Priti Patel, saying: ‘What are you going to do to bring my siblings and mother that are stuck in Afghanistan right now? I am a British citizen. There must be something you guys can do.’

A further social media user called Zubeir Arefi tweeted Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying: ‘Dear sir, I’m British citizen, I’m in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with my family. I email and called to emergency number as well – nobody response back and I don’t know what should we do (sic).’

It comes as the founder of an animal rights charity in Afghanistan urged the British Government to help withdraw his staff from Kabul.

Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine Commando and founder of the Nowzad charity, is campaigning for the Government to have 71 people flown to the UK from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized the capital city.

Mr Farthing is currently in Afghanistan with his staff and has said he is determined not to leave the country without them.

Becoming visibly emotional while describing the current situation in the city, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We have no idea what’s coming next in the next few days, I’m just trying to hold it together.

‘Without a doubt, there has been a complete waste over the loss of life for the last 20 years. What is happening in Afghanistan today is an absolute travesty. The US and the UK are now giving the world a masterclass in how to completely ruin a country and create a humanitarian crisis.’

He added: ‘I need to get my staff out. There’s been absolutely no communication from anybody in the Foreign Office (about) my Afghan staff, who are now in the most desperate position. They need to be taken out of Afghanistan. They have got to leave because of what we have done to this country. They are in danger.’

The charity has launched a campaign called Operation Ark to fundraise £200,000 to help evacuate Mr Farthing’s staff and the charity’s animals out of the country. 

Afghan people sit as they wait to leave Kabul Airport today amid chaotic scenes as the Taliban took control of the city

Afghan people sit as they wait to leave Kabul Airport today amid chaotic scenes as the Taliban took control of the city

Footage published by Afghan outlet Aśvaka showed three stowaways falling to the deaths after clinging on to the wheels of a military plane as it took off from Kabul Airport

Footage published by Afghan outlet Aśvaka showed three stowaways falling to the deaths after clinging on to the wheels of a military plane as it took off from Kabul Airport

Video posted later appeared to show residents collecting the bodies of three stowaways, who reportedly fell from the plane

Video posted later appeared to show residents collecting the bodies of three stowaways, who reportedly fell from the plane

It has been supported by Downton Abbey and Unforgotten actor Peter Egan, who posted a video plea to his supporters on Twitter to contact their local MPs, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to help the charity’s workers escape Kabul.

Comedian Ricky Gervais and actress Dame Judi Dench are also backing the campaign. Mr Farthing launched the charity in 2006 after adopting a stray dog while serving in Helmand province.

‘How can I leave my wife alone to die?’, says British national stuck in Kabul

A British father-of-two in Afghanistan who fears for his life says he cannot fly to safety in the UK because it would mean leaving his wife ‘all alone to die’.

The 42-year-old, who asked to be identified only as Omed, said he was ‘hiding at home’ with his family in Kabul as Taliban forces took control of the country’s major cities and moved into the capital. He fears his British citizenship and previous work on US army bases will make him and his family targets for the Taliban.

Omed has two children under the age of eight, who also have British nationality, but he said that because his wife is not a UK citizen, she could not get a visa to come to the country.

He said: ‘If I fly back to UK, how can I leave my wife all alone to die? As soon as they come to Kabul – obviously people know each other: neighbours, businesses and everything – they would come and if they don’t find me obviously my wife would be there. I cannot leave her – whatever happens, I would like to be with her.’

Omed, who was born in Afghanistan, arrived in the UK in 2001 as an asylum seeker after fleeing the Taliban, ultimately claiming citizenship. He moved back to Afghanistan around 12 years later, when he believed it was safer, and began working with a company drilling water wells.

He said he has enough money to support his family back in the UK but has been told his wife cannot get a visa. ‘They should at least show compassion because already they are taking embassy staff back to the UK,’ Omed said. ‘They might have had room to consider people who have Afghan wives and are able to support them back in the UK. It’s an emergency.’

Omed said he has only once been able to speak to anyone from the embassy, around two weeks ago, and was told there were no special circumstances that would allow him to take his wife to the UK.

He went to the British Embassy on Sunday morning, he added, but found that the building had been evacuated overnight. He said he is trying to remain as calm as possible for the sake of his family.

‘I’m really scared but I’m trying to, in front of them, to be calm and show that nothing will happen,’ he said. ‘If I show my feelings, what’s inside, to them probably they will start screaming. But deep down I know it’s not as easy as I’m trying to show them. It’s really scary because being a British national is one and working in the US army bases is a second danger for me.’

He said he plans to leave as soon as possible to go and stay with relatives in an area where people do not know him, before possibly trying to escape to a neighbouring country with his family.

The charity has a dog shelter which looked after nearly 140 dogs and a cat shelter with more than 40 cats. A team of 24 Afghan nationals treat and look after the animals.

Meanwhile a British father-of-two in Afghanistan who fears for his life says he cannot fly to safety in the UK because it would mean leaving his wife ‘all alone to die’.

The 42-year-old, who asked to be identified only as Omed, said he was ‘hiding at home’ with his family in Kabul as Taliban forces took control of the country’s major cities and moved into the capital.

He fears his British citizenship and previous work on US army bases will make him and his family targets for the Taliban.

Omed has two children under the age of eight, who also have British nationality, but he said that because his wife is not a UK citizen, she could not get a visa to come to the country.

He said: ‘If I fly back to UK, how can I leave my wife all alone to die? As soon as they come to Kabul – obviously people know each other: neighbours, businesses and everything – they would come and if they don’t find me obviously my wife would be there.

‘I cannot leave her – whatever happens, I would like to be with her.’

Omed, who was born in Afghanistan, arrived in the UK in 2001 as an asylum seeker after fleeing the Taliban, ultimately claiming citizenship. He moved back to Afghanistan around 12 years later, when he believed it was safer, and began working with a company drilling water wells.

He said he has enough money to support his family back in the UK but has been told his wife cannot get a visa.

‘They should at least show compassion because already they are taking embassy staff back to the UK,’ Omed said. ‘They might have had room to consider people who have Afghan wives and are able to support them back in the UK. It’s an emergency.’

Omed said he has only once been able to speak to anyone from the embassy, around two weeks ago, and was told there were no special circumstances that would allow him to take his wife to the UK.

He went to the British Embassy on Sunday morning, he added, but found that the building had been evacuated overnight. He said he is trying to remain as calm as possible for the sake of his family.

‘I’m really scared but I’m trying to, in front of them, to be calm and show that nothing will happen,’ he said. ‘If I show my feelings, what’s inside, to them probably they will start screaming. But deep down I know it’s not as easy as I’m trying to show them. It’s really scary because being a British national is one and working in the US army bases is a second danger for me.’

He said he plans to leave as soon as possible to go and stay with relatives in an area where people do not know him, before possibly trying to escape to a neighbouring country with his family.

Today, Boris Johnson will chair a third Cobra meeting over the worsening situation in Afghanistan as No 10 pledged to continue to evacuate people from the country for as long as it is safe to do so.

The Prime Minister will hold a third Cobra meeting in four days this afternoon as a desperate struggle to get UK nationals and local allies out of the country continues.

His official spokesman said the UK will continue the evacuation effort for ‘as long as we are able to do so and as long as it is safe to do so’ as the Government came under fire for the way in which the crisis has been handled.

Afghan passengers sit inside a plane as they wait to leave Kabul Airport today amid chaotic scenes in the city

Afghan passengers sit inside a plane as they wait to leave Kabul Airport today amid chaotic scenes in the city

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul today

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul today

A man pulls a girl to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul today as chaotic scenes continue in Afghanistan

A man pulls a girl to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul today as chaotic scenes continue in Afghanistan 

Afghans crowd around Kabul Airport today to flee the country as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan

Afghans crowd around Kabul Airport today to flee the country as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan 

But Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who served in the Scots Guards, appeared to choke up as he spoke of his regret that ‘some people won’t get back’.

Speaking on LBC, Mr Wallace said: ‘It’s a really deep part of regret for me… look, some people won’t get back. Some people won’t get back and we will have to do our best in third countries to process those people.’

Asked why he felt the situation ‘so personally’, Mr Wallace replied: ‘Because I’m a soldier… because it’s sad and the West has done what it’s done, we have to do our very best to get people out and stand by our obligations and 20 years of sacrifice is what it is.’

British troops are racing against the clock to get people out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the Western-backed government amid a rapid advance across the country by the Taliban.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said today there would be ‘significant numbers flying out day by day’ and that the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy was ‘open-ended’.

He said the British ambassador, Sir Laurie Bristow, was working from the airport in Kabul alongside Home Office staff, diplomatic workers, and the armed services, to process visas.

He told a Westminster briefing: ‘We will continue to do everything we can, our offer is open-ended, we haven’t put an end date on that and we will continue to do all we can including – as the Defence Secretary said – should individuals manage to get to other countries and be brought in from those other countries.’



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