British embassy guards still stuck in Afghanistan

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More than 150 guards who protected the British embassy from Taliban attacks are still stranded in Afghanistan months after they were promised refuge in the UK.

everal of the men who worked for a security contractor company said they had been beaten and intimidated by the Taliban because of their former job guarding British diplomats.

More than 100 guards who worked for GardaWorld, a security company, remain in the country 10 months after the Taliban re-took power, according to the BBC.

One man, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals, said he was recently beaten by the Taliban because of his previous job.

“I was sitting outside when gunmen approached me, and one of [them] attacked me,” he said.

“They said ‘you were working for the British embassy’. They started beating me and they threw me on the ground. They attacked me again and again.”

The UK government promised it would evacuate the guards last August, as British troops tried to airlift thousands of former interpreters, local staff and their relatives out of the airport.

The guards were left behind and some have accused the UK government of betraying them.

Earlier this week, the UK government said the former guards would be able to apply to come to the UK from next week, as part of its Afghan citizens resettlement scheme (ACRS). The scheme is meant to give refuge to those who assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan.

The UK government has been running a separate scheme, called the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), to relocate staff and interpreters who were employed directly by the UK government.

One Afghan who came to the UK under that scheme said his former colleagues from the embassy were being threatened on a daily basis.

“I feel like the British have been disloyal,” he said. “They made a promise – these men worked hard for them and now their lives are at risk.

“I can’t sleep or eat without thinking of what they’re going through. They message me constantly asking for help.”

The Taliban said they would offer an amnesty to anyone who had worked for the former Afghan government and its international backers when they took power.

Yet there have been persistent reports of reprisals and harassment among these workers.

The UK Government said it had evacuated 15,000 people in the chaotic two weeks after the Taliban took over, and helped another 4,600 leave the country since then.

A spokesman said: “We have opened the Afghanistan Citizen Resettlement Scheme, one of the most ambitious resettlement programmes in the world and the first bespoke scheme in Europe to begin resettling evacuees and individuals.” 

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]



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