A former British soldier stranded in Afghanistan is planning an exodus by land with about 400 Afghan nationals.
Ben Slater, a former Royal Military Police Officer who served as a bodyguard to British ambassadors, will try to bring his 50 staff and about 350 other Afghans across the border to a nearby country so they can eventually be processed to enter the UK, according to The Telegraph.
The 37-year-old founder of NGO Nomad Concepts Group told the newspaper that he hopes the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) can provide help on the other side of the border.
“It’s going to be a long trip, and I am hoping on the other end that the FCDO have got our visas sorted, or at least have spoken to the foreign affairs ministry in our destination country to allow access for our vulnerable staff,” he said.
The Telegraph said Slater showed a detailed plan of his operation, which he had sent to the FCDO, but didn’t reveal any details for security reasons.
The Epoch Times could not independently verify this information.
Slater previously said that his company had been assisting the Western militaries’ repatriation effort since the operation began, but his own staff couldn’t secure their visas to make the flights.
Slater stayed behind with his staff, whom he said are mostly Afghan women who would be eligible for the UK’s special cases refugee programme. He said he felt “let down massively” by the UK government, but would continue to help and “pick up anybody we can on the way.”
The RAF managed to airlift around 15,000 British citizens and eligible Afghans out of Kabul during its two-week repatriation effort.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme on Tuesday that it’s hard to know the exact number of British nationals remaining in Afghanistan, but he estimates that the number is “in the low hundreds.”
The government estimates that between 800 and 1,100 Afghans who would have been eligible to settle in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy were left behind, but the Labour Party claimed that the government had “significantly” underestimated the number.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously said that British citizens and Afghans eligible to resettle in the UK who are left behind in Afghanistan will have to find their own way out of the country, and the UK has been looking at establishing “a series of processing hubs” in countries neighbouring Afghanistan.
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.