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Government 'Cannot Be Allowed To Cut And Run' From Afghanistan, Says Labour

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan accused the Government of "failing" Afghan staff who supported British Armed Forces.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister has accused the UK Government of "failing" Afghan staff who supported British Armed Forces in the country.

Stephen Morgan also said the Government "cannot be allowed to cut and run" as the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan comes to an end.

Labour has pointed to a Parliamentary paper which said British Forces were "supported by some 7,000 Afghans, known as locally employed (or engaged) civilians (LECs)".

They added that "according to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), interpreters accounted for around half of all LECs in Afghanistan".

On 22 July, in a written Parliamentary response, Defence Minister Leo Docherty said the speed of relocations under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) had been "significantly accelerated… in line with the military drawdown".

"This now takes the total number of people from Afghanistan relocated to the UK under the ARAP and the previous ex-gratia policy to nearly 2,000," Mr Docherty said.

Watch: UK has 'moral obligation' to look after Afghan interpreters.

However, Labour claimed analysis of those Government figures suggested that "more than two-thirds could still be stranded in the country under Taliban threat".

The party continued that "emails... suggest staff processing applications at the British Embassy in Kabul are overwhelmed".

Mr Morgan highlighted the case of translator Mohammad Nabi Wardak was highlighted.

He said Mr Wardak is still stranded in Greece four months after being told he was eligible for the scheme – with his wife and family at risk in Afghanistan.

Labour added that email correspondence of the case suggests a "very small team" is processing "vast amounts" of applications.

"Interpreters and their families are in mortal danger on a daily basis," Mr Morgan said.

"It is clear ministers either do not understand the urgency of the situation on the ground or are comfortable with a laissez-faire approach."

"Leaving even one person behind would be an unforgivable dereliction of our moral duty to those who bravely served with UK forces.

Watch: What issues face Afghanistan post-withdrawal?

"This Government cannot be allowed to cut and run as we end our drawdown."

Mr Morgan said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace must "immediately take personal responsibility" for the ARAP "and process outstanding cases without further delay".

Labour's call comes after the UK Government rejected claims it is "not supporting" former or current Afghan staff who worked alongside British troops in the country.

The response, signed by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Mr Wallace, followed an open letter penned by dozens of senior military figures calling for more Afghan staff to be allowed to resettle in the UK.

"Nobody's life should be put at risk because they supported the UK Government in Afghanistan," the UK Government said.

The response added that the UK's "Afghan relocation policy is one of the most generous in the world", claiming "more than 1,000 of them" have arrived "over the last few weeks alone".

At the beginning of this week, Mr Wallace pledged to "personally review contentious claims" regarding Afghan civilians who worked with coalition forces and wish to resettle in the UK.

Cover image: RAF door gunner watches over the city of Kabul from a Puma, as Op Toral draws to a close in Afghanistan (Picture: MOD).