Afghanistan

Afghanistan: UK's Last Civilian Evacuation Flight Leaves Kabul

General Sir Nick Carter said the UK has "not been able to bring everybody out" of Afghanistan "and that has been heartbreaking".

The last dedicated flight purely for the evacuation effort from Afghanistan has left Kabul, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Additional flights leaving from the city's airport would be able to transport evacuees, but would also be carrying UK diplomatic staff and military personnel.

It comes as the UK's ambassador to Afghanistan said, in a video posted on Twitter, it was "time to close this phase" of the evacuation effort.

Sir Laurie Bristow, who remained in Afghanistan to process those needing to leave the country, added they "have been working until the very last moment to evacuate British nationals, Afghans and others at risk".

"Thursday's terrorist attack was a reminder of the difficult and dangerous conditions in which Operation Pitting has been done.

"And sadly, I attended here yesterday the ceremony to pay our respects to the 13 US soldiers who died.

"It's time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven't forgotten the people who still need to leave.

"We'll continue to do everything we can to help them. Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan.

"They deserve to live in peace and security."

This morning, General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, told the BBC Radio 4 Today the UK was "reaching the end of the evacuation" before Britain begins to bring "troops out on the remaining aircraft."

General Carter also told of troops' "heartbreaking" efforts whilst deployed on Operation Pitting - the UK's mission to evacuate UK Nationals and former Afghan staff from the country.

"We haven't been able to bring everybody out and that has been heartbreaking, and there have been some very challenging judgments that have had to be made on the ground," he said.

General Carter added people who have had a very, very long association with Afghanistan "are forever receiving messages and texts from our Afghan friends that are very distressing".

"We're all living this in the most painful way," he said.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said on Friday that once the final civilian evacuations were complete, there would be space on military flights for diplomats and personnel.

Watch: Afghanistan – what's next for Afghans left behind?

But Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, a former Army officer who fought in Afghanistan and who is now chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told BBC Breakfast he was "extremely sad" the evacuation effort was coming to an end.

"It still leaves me extremely sad that so many of my friends have been left behind," he said.

"There's been many of us giving pressure to improve the processing of people who we think we have a duty of care to over the months and years.

"There are going to be questions to be asked to the Foreign Secretary about the processing in the UK in recent weeks that we’re going to have to see what the answers are."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously admitted there were between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme who would be left behind.

And, he thought, about 100 to 150 UK nationals who would remain in Afghanistan, although Mr Wallace said some of those were staying willingly.

But a number of MPs have said that based on the correspondence they had received asking for help, they thought this was an underestimation.

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on our website.