More than 100 guards from the British embassy in Kabul who had been told they were ineligible for UK government protection will be evacuated from Afghanistan after all, a minister said.
However, a source from his employer, GardaWorld, said that expatriate personnel were in the process of being evacuated, including some British employees, but that the situation had not changed for the Afghan guards.
Some of the guards said they had not heard from their employer about any proposed evacuation.
The Guardian first reported Thursday that most of the 125 security team members had received an informal notice that they no longer had embassy surveillance jobs and were ineligible for protection because they were hired through a contractor. outsourced.
However, after a backlash on Thursday, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey suggested he had been taken to the Kabul airport, where UK and US forces are overseeing an evacuation, on Friday morning. .
“I understand that the GardaWorld convoy, which are the contractors you are referring to, arrived at Kabul airport and are in fact in the process of evacuation,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
When asked why his passage was ever in doubt, he replied, “I don’t know.”
Two guards contacted by The Guardian on Friday morning said they were still at home and had received no information from GardaWorld about an evacuation and no contact from British officials to suggest that their requests for the relocation plan were being reconsidered.
At least one guard was trying to get to the airport independently, but others were still at home, one of them said. “There are thousands of people at the airport. It is impossible to enter. We haven’t heard anything about an evacuation, ”he said.
The guards, some of whom had worked for the UK embassy for more than a decade, described feeling neglected by British officials and their employer. Many have been forced into hiding, fearing for their lives.
Among those who responded to the report that guards were being denied protection was shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, who tweeted Thursday night: “Denying shelter to those who protected us. Totally reprehensible. This is not who we are. “
Heappey said in another interview on Friday that people at all levels of the UK government were “working hard” to evacuate people after he was questioned about Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan.
He told Sky News: “I do not know the exact details of the call sheets of the foreign ministers.
“What can I tell you, as Secretary of State [Ben Wallace] He said yesterday, I know that no phone call would have been decisive to change the trajectory, neither because of the collapse of the Afghan government nor because of the acceleration of the airlift.
“What I see is that from the prime minister to the secretaries of state, my junior ministerial colleagues in the government and senior civil servants, to the brave volunteer civil servants who have gone to Kabul … there are people from all over the government of His Majesty working they take their backs to get people out. “