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Afghan soldiers ‘betrayed’ by Britain

9 August 20230 comments

Former Afghan military personnel who fought alongside British troops are being threatened with deportation to Rwanda after seeking asylum in the UK.

One is an army colonel who fought alongside British troops and fled to the UK on a small boat.

Recovering from a wound sustained during combat, the colonel left his wife and children behind in Afghanistan to find safety and, after a perilous journey across 11 countries, arrived in the UK on a small boat in September, last year.

Another is a pilot who flew 30 combat missions against the Taliban and was praised by his coalition forces supervisor as a “patriot to his nation”, was forced into hiding and said it was “impossible” to make his way to Britain via a safe route.

He says he is one of many Afghan forces personnel who have been “forgotten” by the US and British forces and believes the promise of “friendship and cooperation” has been abandoned.

The UK Government recently introduced a policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda while their claims are processed.

A court has ruled the policy is unlawful, but the UK Government is set to appeal the ruling.

Refugee advocates and former senior military figures have criticised the Rwanda policy.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the British army, said the fact that the pilot had been “cast off” by the British for the US to handle was “a complete abrogation of our responsibilities and our decency”.

Air Marshal Edward Stringer, commander of Royal Air Force air operations during the Afghan conflict, said the UK government was making a “weaselling distinction” over the pilot’s war record.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that for Britain to “turn its back on a pilot” and fail to “do what is necessary to keep to the covenant that we protect his life as he helped to protect ours” is “shameful”.

Afghans now account for the largest number of small boat migrants, with more than 9,000 having made the English Channel crossing last year.

UK forces were deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 in support of the UN-authorised, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). 

The two decade-long campaign in Afghanistan ended in 2021 the withdrawal of coalition troops and diplomatic personnel from Kabul.

It was a campaign that began with the overthrow of the Taliban ended with the Taliban returning to power.