Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the “heroic efforts” of British troops and officers concerned in evacuation efforts in Kabul – as the federal government unveiled plans to assist Afghans settle within the UK.
The prime minister has written to the armed forces group to thank them for his or her position in Operation Pitting, which has seen hundreds of individuals flown out of Afghanistan‘s capital following the Taliban’s takeover.
Afghans who’ve been delivered to the UK will now be the main focus of Operation Heat Welcome, which guarantees to offer assist with well being, schooling, employment, and lodging to assist them “absolutely combine into society”.
Mr Johnson informed these concerned within the evacuations that they “ought to really feel immense pleasure” for what they’ve completed, together with earlier efforts as a part of Britain’s 20-year Afghan marketing campaign.
“Your efforts in troublesome and hostile circumstances have seen the evacuation of hundreds of British nationals alongside Afghans who labored with us, and who will now begin new lives within the UK,” he mentioned.
“I do know that the occasions of latest weeks may have been arduous for the armed forces group to look at unfold.
“During the last 20 years, many hundreds of you devoted years of your lives to service in Afghanistan, usually in essentially the most arduous circumstances. Particularly, I realise that this shall be an particularly troublesome time for the chums and family members of the 457 service personnel who laid down their lives.
“So I need to take this chance to supply my profound thanks for every little thing you probably did and to say with out hesitation that you must take the best pleasure in your achievements.”
The federal government has come beneath heavy criticism from Afghan veterans by itself backbenches because the Taliban accomplished its takeover of Kabul earlier this month.
Some have questioned whether or not the collapse of the Afghan authorities rendered the efforts nugatory, with query marks over whether or not human rights beneficial properties since 2001 – notably for girls and women – will now be reversed.
However a defiant PM mentioned: “Our objective in Afghanistan was easy – to guard the UK from hurt – and also you succeeded in that central mission.
“Within the final 20 years, not a single terrorist assault has been launched from Afghan soil in opposition to the UK or some other Western nation.”
The prime minister mentioned thousands and thousands of Afghan women had obtained an schooling because of the efforts of Western troops, and that no such beneficial properties “may swiftly be undone”.
“Whether or not you might be nonetheless serving or a veteran, a loved-one, a relation or a buddy, you all performed your half and you must really feel immense pleasure,” he added.
Evaluation by Rob Powell, political correspondent
Boris Johnson is placing on one thing of a courageous face when he speaks in regards to the file of the UK in Afghanistan.
There might be no doubting the heroic efforts of troops working within the nation during the last two weeks and 20 years.
However critical questions of competence and technique dangle over the UK authorities.
Doubtlessly essentially the most urgent of those relate to the a whole lot of people that have been eligible for evacuation however – because the final UK troops pull out – nonetheless stay in Afghanistan.
Was sufficient completed by the federal government to get them processed and into the airport? What likelihood do they now have of leaving the nation because the Taliban takes full management and the UK’s diplomatic presence strikes out?
Then there are the broader questions of technique.
Boris Johnson factors to what he sees as victories from the 20-year marketing campaign: a degrading of the fear risk to the UK, schooling for girls and infrastructure enhancements.
However can the UK now genuinely “protect the beneficial properties of the final 20 years and provides the Afghan individuals the long run they deserve”, because the prime minister has claimed this night?
Many in his personal celebration suppose not.
Conservative MP and Afghanistan veteran Tom Tugendhat at the moment referred to as the UK withdrawal a “nationwide tragedy” and “shameful second”.
It is not arduous to see why many imagine any victories from Afghanistan are in the end swamped by the defeats.
Troops who require assist will be capable of name upon the NHS Op Braveness service, together with current help inside their respective service.
Assist for the Afghans arriving within the UK shall be supplied via plans dubbed Operation Heat Welcome.
It will likely be overseen by a brand new devoted minister for Afghan resettlement: Victoria Atkins.
The plans embrace the creation of a central portal the place individuals, organisations and companies can register affords of assist via volunteering, jobs, abilities coaching, donations.
Free English language programs will even be supplied in recognition that most of the dependents of former employees and Afghan translators might have this.
The PM mentioned: “For many who have left their houses with not more than a small bag of belongings, and in concern for his or her lives, coming to the UK will little doubt have been a frightening expertise, but additionally one in every of hope for the long run.”
He added: “We are going to always remember the courageous sacrifice made by Afghans who selected to work with us, at nice danger to themselves. We owe them, and their households, an enormous debt.”
Dwelling Secretary Priti Patel added: “This week we’ve all seen the reduction on the faces of those that have made it from Afghanistan to security right here within the UK.
“Our message to those that have already arrived, welcome – we’re glad you might be right here and you may be treasured members of our communities.”
Full particulars of Operation Heat Welcome shall be set out subsequent week and construct on current commitments, which embrace £5m for native councils for housing assist and the provide of a COVID vaccine for all arrivals.