Afghanistan

Operation Pitting 100 days on: How many interpreters are left behind in Afghanistan?

The evacuation mission began in August this year, as part of a multinational extraction of British nationals and former staff.

In August this year, the last RAF flight dedicated solely to the UK's evacuation of Afghanistan left Kabul airport.

Operation Pitting began on 14 August as part of a multinational extraction of British nationals and former staff who could then relocate under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

But, 100 days on since Operation Pitting was established by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), some interpreters who helped British forces in Afghanistan still remain in the country – living in fear of the ruling Taliban.

Jointly administered by both the MOD and the Home Office, the ARAP scheme had already received 60,000 applications before the evacuation of Kabul airport.

Before the start of Operation Pitting the UK Government managed to relocate almost 2,000 applicants.

Watch: 'See my service numbers?' – Afghan interpreter claims UK left him behind.

Between the start of the UK's evacuation of Kabul on 14 August 2021 and the final flight on 28 August 2021, more than 15,000 people were flown out of Kabul by the RAF, 5,000 of these were ARAP applicants, and their families.

And since the end of the airlift, another 500 have been flown to safety via third-party countries.

However, in this time, 29,000 new applications have been received for the ARAP scheme.

At the end of November, in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the MOD said it has just 46 core staff dedicated to processing ARAP applications.

Watch: 'They will shoot me and my family' – desperate wait for interpreters still in Afghanistan.

This would mean each caseworker has more than 1,700 applications to process.

The MOD added that the number of staff is fluid and these caseworkers do have other Government workers supporting them with the heavy caseload. 

Since the end of the UK's evacuation from Kabul, there have also been three data breaches exposing the vulnerable Afghans left behind.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was told to "get his house in order" after the revelation suggested a total of 268 addresses had been exposed.

The ARAP scheme remains open and is not time-limited.