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Politics was priority during Kabul evacuations; UK official

AT News

KABUL: An official in UK’s Foreign Office has berated the British government’s handling of Afghanistan evacuation as “unforgivable”, claiming ministers were more focused on media coverage and “the political fallout” than saving lives.

The civil servant, who requested anonymity, told BBC Two’s Newsnight that “trauma and suffering”, was caused by the way it was managed.

The UK government said staff worked tirelessly to evacuate 15,000 people.

The UK Foreign Office official said she had struggled to explain what the situation was like “because it was too upsetting, but also because people wouldn’t believe it. It’s unforgivable – that’s how I’d describe it.”

“The entire operation was to manage the political fallout of what was happening, rather than to actually manage the crisis and that, for me, was the most upsetting and most difficult aspect of it”, she said.

The new testimony comes after ex-official Raphael Marshall told MPs that hundreds of thousands of emails went unread during the evacuation of Britons and Afghan allies in August after the Taliban declared victory in Afghanistan.

The civil servant speaking to Newsnight corroborated Mr Marshall’s account of unread emails.

“You had dozens of people reading harrowing horrific bits of information in emails and knowing full well that nothing was going to be done with any of it, other than a report at the end of the day to say the email had been read”, she said.

The highly-experienced official described the evacuation as the worst operation she had ever witnessed in her career.

“I can certainly say that huge amounts of trauma and suffering were either caused directly because of the way it was handled and most probably lives also lost,” she said.

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