Boris Johnson said the “vast majority” of people eligible for evacuation from Kabul airport have now left Afghanistan, promising that the British government would do “everything in its power” to get the rest of the country out.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, the prime minister said British forces had already evacuated “about 15,000 people”, but acknowledged that time was running out.
This comes amid warnings that a “very lethal” terrorist attack could take place at the airport within hours.
“By the time we are gone, which may be – and I’m sure everyone can appreciate – very short, we will do everything we can to get everyone,” he said.
Speaking about the airlift operation, the prime minister added: “We are now nearing the end of this phase anyway.”
British and US officials have warned of the increased risk of a terrorist attack on airport or refugee handling centers, where thousands await evacuation.
earlier, Secretary of the Armed Forces James Hebei He called on those queuing outside Hamid Karzai International Airport to move to safety amid concerns about the branch of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq. Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K.
The type of attacks known to carry out are suicide bombings, such as detonating a car bomb or an individual blowing himself up.
The imminent threat strained the airlift operation to get as many people out of Afghanistan as soon as possible after it was taken over by the Afghan government. Taliban.
It is believed that many Afghan interpreters and British nationals still need to be evacuated from the country, but the prime minister told reporters that “the lion’s share” of those eligible for assistance had now been removed from the country.
But he noted that “there will be people who still need help” and said the UK’s commitment to helping those who wish to flee would not end on August 31 – the deadline for British forces to leave before US forces leave.
Amid concerns that the Taliban may block exit routes for citizens, the prime minister warned the group that people should be allowed to leave Afghanistan to benefit from the participation of the rest of the world.
“What we hope, and this is the basic point that the G7 agreed on, is that the Taliban understand that if they want to deal with development aid, they want to free those billions of money, they want to have a diplomatic and political relationship with the outside world, the safe corridor for whoever they want Exit is the prerequisite.”
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Hebe told Sky News that eight RAF flights had managed to transport 1,988 people from Kabul in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the total number of evacuees by the United States since August 14, when the operation began, has reached more than 95,000.
The Prime Minister also said that the UK government should be “transparent about the risks” posed by ISIL in Khorasan.
He said while visiting the permanent joint headquarters in north London, where he met with military personnel coordinating the evacuation efforts.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Department warned Wednesday evening of “a continuing and severe terrorist attack risk” at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace reportedly told MPs during a media call on the same day that eligible Afghans hoping to seek asylum in the UK would be better off now heading to the Afghan border and trying to make their way to a third country.
Mr. Hebei explained that “the window of opportunity to evacuate people is closing,” but did not say when The last flight is leaving.
“Well, we still have 11 flights scheduled to depart in the next 24 hours,” the defense secretary told Sky News.
The Prime Minister also did not give a specific time frame for when the RAF evacuation flights would end.
The end of the evacuation is fast approaching after US President Joe Biden rejected calls from Mr Johnson and other allies to delay it. August 31, the date for the withdrawal of the remaining US forces, who provide security at Kabul airport.
A team of more than 1,000 British soldiers and diplomats running the British evacuation mission on the ground will need a period of time to pack their equipment and leave before the US exit deadline.
This means that evacuation flights for Afghan civilians desperate to flee the country after the Taliban seized power must stop at least a few days in advance.
Meanwhile, Shadow Minister for Asia Stephen Kinnock told Sky News that up to 2,000 interpreters could be left behind which is “absolutely unforgivable”.
“Serious questions should be asked once you pass this stage of getting as many people out as possible,” he said.
“We understand that up to 2,000 interpreters and others who have assisted our armed forces could be left behind. It is absolutely unforgivable.”