Dozens of cross-party MPs have signed a letter to the defence secretary calling on him to evacuate all the guards who provided security for the British embassy in Kabul.
Despite a commitment from the Foreign Office on Friday that visas would be given to all the Afghan security staff contracted through the international security firm GardaWorld to protect the embassy, the guards have still been given no information about if and how they may be helped to leave the country.
The politicians welcomed the promise that the guards would be given assistance, but stressed that the commitment was a hollow one unless an evacuation plan was put in place, given the dangerous and chaotic situation around Kabul airport.
Most of the guards remain in hiding, are worried about their personal safety and are extremely concerned about the formal termination letters they received on Sunday from GardaWorld, which have left them without an income.
“It’s all well and good that the Foreign Office has granted these guards the right to enter the UK, but the priority remains overseeing their evacuation,” said Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, who organised the letter signed by more than 50 MPs. “Many of these guards are currently in hiding, having had their contracts abruptly terminated by their employer.
“It is unacceptable that there has been any doubt cast over their safety, especially given the services they have provided to the security of the British embassy in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Due to their direct connection to the UK, these lives will be at risk until British authorities personally oversee their evacuation.”
The letter to Ben Wallace was signed by six Conservatives, including former ministers Bob Neill, Crispin Blunt and Mark Francois, as well as Labour’s Dan Jarvis, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman and former Green party leader Caroline Lucas.
The guards’ supervisor in Kabul said some guards had been contacted in the past 24 hours by British officials, who wanted to check passport details and the names of their family members. But there was growing anxiety among the embassy’s security team about the dwindling time before the opportunity to leave the country disappears.
“I’m angry and upset. There still isn’t any data about a possible evacuation,” one guard said by email.
GardaWorld successfully evacuated more than 400 expat staff from Kabul on Friday, but the Afghan nationals were not included in this operation. Officials from the company are understood to be in negotiations over how to repeat the evacuation exercise for its local employees. While there was confidence from GardaWorld staff in London that visas would be issued for the guards, there was concern among those involved in planning over the challenge of getting the staff from their homes to the airport.
The Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office have been contacted for comment.