Afghan evacuation ‘arbitrary and dysfunctional,’ British whistleblower testifies

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A whistleblower criticized Great Britain’s handling of the evacuation of Afghan refugees as “arbitrary and dysfunctional” during testimony Tuesday to the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. 

The whistleblower, Raphael Marshall, said thousands of emails from Afghans who were potentially eligible for flights out of the country were unread by the British Foreign Office. 

Marshall, a desk officer in the British Foreign Office during the Taliban’s takeover in Kabul, was part of the “Afghan Special Cases” team. That group worked to help people like Afghan soldiers, journalists, aid workers and judges, many of whom Marshall said were at risk because of their connection to Britain or other Western countries.

The whistleblower estimated that of the 75,000 to 150,000 people including dependents who reached out to his team for evacuation, “fewer than 5 percent of these people have received any assistance.”

He described the “desperate and urgent” emails, including some with titles that had “phrases such as ‘please save my children.’” 

“Emails received an automatic response that the request for assistance had been ‘logged’. This was usually false,” the testimony added.

He also said that the emails “documented numerous recent grave human rights abuses by the Taliban, including murders, rapes, and the burning of homes.”

The evacuation of some animals was also prioritized at the “direct expense of evacuating British nationals and people at risk of imminent murder, including interpreters who had served with the British Army,” Marshall’s testimony claimed.

He also alleged that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson played a role in intervening in the evacuation efforts to prioritize pets, a claim Johnson called “complete nonsense” on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post

The British government has said it assisted over 3,000 people in leaving Afghanistan and also said that it is still working to aid others in getting out of the country, the Post added.

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