Failure, fear and the threat of famine in Afghanistan

When the Taliban entered Kabul in August and completed their takeover of Afghanistan, thousands of people scrambled for the last remaining flights out of the city’s airport. It was chaos that turned deadly: a bomb attack on the airport’s perimeter killed more than 70 people as they crowded the fences, desperate for a way out. Now testimony from a whistleblower who was working on the UK government’s response to the crisis paints a picture of a callous, complacent and incompetent Foreign Office.

It’s a picture that rings true for the Guardian’s senior foreign reporter Emma Graham-Harrison, who tells Michael Safi that while some of the staff in the Foreign Office acted heroically, the system as a whole had huge failings. The government has rejected the account of the whistleblower. A spokesperson said: “Regrettably we were not able to evacuate all those we wanted to, but … since the end of the operation we have helped more than 3,000 individuals leave Afghanistan.”

One of those left behind was Jan Ahmadzai, a British passport holder who took his family across the border into Pakistan, where he says he’s been trying in vain for months to get advice from the UK government on how to return to his home in Scotland.

Meanwhile, the UN is warning that Afghanistan faces one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns, and with it a humanitarian disaster as winter sets in and a famine is feared.

Clips from: BBC, Sky, ITV News

A mother and child at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan


Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

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