UN warns up to 500,000 new refugees could be displaced in Asia after Afghanistan humanitarian crisis


Half a million Afghan refugees could flee their beleaguered homeland that has fallen under Taliban rule by the end of this year, the United Nations has warned. 

The stark message was issued ahead of the August 31 deadline for all US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan – a date in which experts expect the country to fall into further tyranny. 

With a potential humanitarian crisis well underway, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees explained the bloc was preparing for a worst-case scenario of approximately ‘500,000 new refugees in the region’, the Telegraph reports.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted he felt a ‘great sense of regret’ about the many hundreds that UK forces had been unable to evacuate from Kabul. 

The news comes as Britain’s evacuation efforts have now ended after the final flight as part of Operation Pitting left Kabul overnight. 

The UK’s rushed withdrawal plans mean between 100 and 150 Brits and 1,000 Afghans eligible to come to the country are set to be left behind to uncertain fates. 

Afghans queue at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport hoping to leave Afghanistan in Kabul on Saturday. The last UK flight carrying civilians left last night. All further British planes will be carrying military and diplomatic personnel

Taliban Badri fighters, a 'special forces' unit equipped with US gear, stand guard as Afghan wait at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport

Taliban Badri fighters, a ‘special forces’ unit equipped with US gear, stand guard as Afghan wait at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport

Afghan evacuees queue before boarding one of the last Italy's military aircraft C130J during evacuation at Kabul's airport today

Afghan evacuees queue before boarding one of the last Italy’s military aircraft C130J during evacuation at Kabul’s airport today

Watching the Afghanistan catastrophe unfold, the UN’s specialised office for the resettlement of stateless people and refugees across the bloc warned hundreds of thousands of newly displaced people will soon descend on south Asia.  

The UNHCR estimates that in a ‘worst-case scenario’ up to 500,000 new refugees will be added to the region following the humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan. 

It comes as the Ministry of Defence confirmed on Saturday that the final rescue flight as part of Operation Pitting left overnight. 

All remaining RAF jets leaving Kabul will be carrying military and diplomatic personnel. 

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, said: ‘It’s time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave. We’ll continue to do everything we can to help them. 

‘Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan. They deserve to live in peace and security.’ 

Thousands of refugees have been unable to get to the Taliban-guarded airport or are too fearful to do so for the constant threat of terrorism. 

On Thursday, an ISIS suicide bomber killed at least 170 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers, two Britons and the child of a UK national outside the airport walls. 

The MoD said last night that 14,543 people had now been extracted from Kabul since August 13, a mix of Afghan and British nationals, and that now the focus would turn to getting diplomats and service personnel out. 

Some 8,000 of those were Afghans and their families under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme, which applies to those who helped the UK and are at risk of persecution by the Taliban

But the announcement followed warnings that Britain risks the ‘biggest hostage crisis in its history’ by leaving 1,000 Afghan allies to the mercy of the Taliban and Isis-K.

A Taliban fighter guards the airport as desperate Afghans try to escape their brutal reign

A Taliban fighter guards the airport as desperate Afghans try to escape their brutal reign

Members of the British armed forces 16 Air Assault Brigade walk to the air terminal after disembarking a RAF Voyager aircraft at Brize Norton on Saturday

Members of the British armed forces 16 Air Assault Brigade walk to the air terminal after disembarking a RAF Voyager aircraft at Brize Norton on Saturday

One of those rescued was former Royal Marine turned animal rescuer Pen Farthing, 57, who could be the last British civilian to leave Kabul airport.

Mr Farthing and his 180 cats and dogs he housed in the Afghan capital could be left on the tarmac to wait for his charter plane to arrive from Karachi in Pakistan, Sky News said.

The Polish aircraft is expected in the Afghan capital in the next few hours but by that point all Britons – including UK ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow – may have gone.

Mr Farthing will fly from Kabul to Tashkent in Uzbekistan before later returning to Britain, where he has won legions of fans for holding the government to account.

But in a blow to the ex-soldier, it emerged today his animals will be locked up when he arrives in the UK.

British troops were seen securing the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel, near the Abbey Gate in Kabul on Thursday following the bombing

British troops were seen securing the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel, near the Abbey Gate in Kabul on Thursday following the bombing

Officials said the dogs and cats face a four-month quarantine in kennels and catteries until at least Christmas.

The Government has faced a steady stream of criticism for its haphazard extraction plans, while Boris Johnson appeared to take a swipe at Joe Biden, saying the timing of the pull-out was ‘not the one that this country would have chosen’. 

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: ‘This is the brutal truth, despite getting more than 14,000 people out, there are probably 1,000 Afghans who have worked with us over two decades in Afghanistan, helped our troops, our aid workers, our diplomats, that we promised to protect, but we’re leaving behind.

‘And I know those troops in particular will feel our failure on this as a country is a betrayal of many of those who risked their own lives to work alongside us.

‘And I think what’s important now is that we may be giving up the airport, but we cannot give up on the Afghan people or fighting to try and protect the gains that they and our troops and our diplomats and aid workers have worked so hard over two decades to gain in Afghanistan.’ 

Pen Farthing, 57, told how his employees were stopped from crossing the Taliban line to the British area at Kabul airport

Pen Farthing, 57, told how his employees were stopped from crossing the Taliban line to the British area at Kabul airport

His desperate comments were in sharp contrast to his wife, who last night spoke of her joy that her husband and his furry friends were on their way home

His desperate comments were in sharp contrast to his wife, who last night spoke of her joy that her husband and his furry friends were on their way home

It comes as the US military said it used a drone strike to kill a member of the so-called Islamic State group's Afghanistan affiliate (pictured, Kabul airport yesterday)

It comes as the US military said it used a drone strike to kill a member of the so-called Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate (pictured, Kabul airport yesterday)

International fury is mounting over U.S. president Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from the country, which led to the Taliban’s lighting-fast takeover of Afghanistan and in-turn sparked the desperate evacuation, with foreign countries being given a August 31 deadline to get their citizens out. 

It comes as the US military said it used a drone strike to kill a member of the so-called Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate.

The strike came amid what the White House called indications that Isis-K planned to strike again as the US-led evacuation from Kabul airport moves into its final days.

A devastating suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 170 Afghans and 13 American service members at the airport on Thursday.

Ministers said they were prepared to ‘take action’ to deal with the terror threat as the death toll continued to rise following the suicide bomb blast which signalled the biggest single loss of American troops in Afghanistan for a decade.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the deaths of two British adults as well as injuries to two others. It is understood the child who died was a teenager.

Mr Raab said: ‘These were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK they were murdered by cowardly terrorists.

‘Yesterday’s despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out. We are offering consular support to their families.

‘We will not turn our backs on those who look to us in their hour of need and we will never be cowed by terrorists.’



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