Not just Americans: Dozens of stranded Brits plead for evac from Afghanistan

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

At least the Guardian hasn’t forgotten about its compatriots abandoned in Afghanistan — even while American media does its best to avert their eyes. Over sixty Brits pleaded for evacuation from Kabul and its environs, warning that their time was running out. Their experience with their Foreign Office might sound familiar to Americans expecting the State Department to act:

More than 60 British nationals who remain stranded in Afghanistan have criticised the government for abandoning them and their families in an increasingly dangerous situation.

About 20 of the group met outside Kabul this week to record a message for UK officials calling for urgent assistance with evacuation back to Britain.

“We feel very vulnerable as British people here. We are worried we will be targeted by the Taliban. We are asking the government to help evacuate us with our wives and children,” one of group’s coordinators, a mechanic from London, said. “We’re in an extremely dangerous situation.” …

Since the evacuation ended most described struggling to contact Foreign Office staff, despite sending numerous emails to an FCDO email address created for people left in Afghanistan. “I’ve sent more than 10 emails and didn’t get any reply,” one said.

Almost everyone in the group has a wife or children who do not have British passports. While the evacuation was happening the Home Office was allowing dependants without British passports to flee. However the situation appears to have reverted to standard immigration rules, whereby a visa needs to be secured for dependants.

This causes practical difficulties. “My wife would need to pass an English language test to meet the visa requirements, but there are no language courses for women in Afghanistan and no test centres,” one member of the group said, by phone.

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Of course, the context here is that the UK relied on the US to maintain a security environment in which the Foreign Office could make those kinds of adjustments. Thanks to Joe Biden’s disgraceful abandonment of our allies, not to mention our own citizens, the UKFO has severe limitations on its ability to get anyone out, let alone those who hadn’t yet gone through the process of certifying themselves for refugee status.

Speaking of not mentioning, the Washington Post reports on diplomatic troubles between the State Department and Pakistan. They barely make mention of the fact that hundreds if not thousands of Americans — citizens and legal permanent residents — remain in the same position as those dozens of Brits:

United States and Pakistani officials are meeting Friday amid a worsening relationship between the two countries as each nation searches for a way forward in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Pakistan has been pressing for greater engagement with the all-male, all-Taliban Cabinet in Kabul even as it shies away from any unilateral formal recognition. The South Asian country has urged Washington to release billions of dollars to the Taliban so that Afghanistan’s new rulers can pay salaries of the many ministries and avoid an economic meltdown. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warns such a crash could unleash a mass migration.

Washington, which spent the better part of two years negotiating peace with the Taliban, is still smarting from its chaotic end to 20 years in Afghanistan, and much about the aftermath remains unclear. The U.S. is quietly talking to some Taliban to evacuate American nationals and others. Meanwhile, Republican senators introduced legislation that would sanction Afghanistan’s new rulers. Images of desperate Afghan men, running alongside a departing American C-17 and falling from the wheel well, have come to represent the mayhem of the U.S. withdrawal.

It’s curious that the Post prioritizes the mention of the Taliban council’s gender representation ahead of the abandoned Americans. Actually, it’s not that curious at all, considering that the State Department has the same priorities. So far, State has spent much more time openly criticizing the lack of women on the radical-Islamist governing council while having to get dragged to discuss the Americans Biden abandoned in Afghanistan. In fact, State to this day has not provided any firm numbers on the latter, which H.R. McMaster estimates into the thousands.

At least one Afghan ally who managed to get out has demanded some accountability from the State Department:

As an employee of a US-funded organization that promoted women’s rights, he was expecting to receive a visa allowing him and his family to escape Afghanistan long before the Taliban took over in August. But in a lawsuit filed Thursday, the man says he’s been waiting nearly two and a half years without a response – and that his two young children have now been forced into hiding after receiving threatening messages at their home in Kabul.

“Every day, I fear for the lives of my sons,” the man, identified only by his first name, Mohammad, said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed by the International Refugee Assistance Project with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses the US State Department and Secretary Antony Blinken of failing to fulfill their legal obligation to quickly process applications for Special Immigrant Visas, which are issued to those who worked for the US mission in Afghanistan. …

Mohammad is himself currently living in California. On a trip there in 2019, the lawsuit says, he learned that the Taliban had left threatening notes at his former home. He decided not to return, instead applying for asylum.

His wife and children were left behind. If he had received his visa, they would have been able to come to the US too. And that was the plan. But the visa never came.

In October 2020, the Taliban found his wife and children and threatened them. According to the lawsuit, his wife died of a heart attack soon after – leaving his children, ages 9 and 11, without a parent. They are currently in hiding and, per the lawsuit, the State Department made no attempt to evacuate them.

Just wait until the Americans that Biden abandoned get back and get lawyers. That is, if they ever get back at all. This is an utter disgrace, and the media’s continued eye-aversion strategy is just as shameful.