Leaving embassy staff without UK protection is “a shameful betrayal” the Labour party has said, after reports that more than 100 guards at the British embassy in Kabul were told they are not eligible.
According to a report in the Guardian, the workers will not be supported by the UK because they were hired by a contractor.
Most of the 125 security personnel employed by GardaWorld – some of whom have worked at the embassy for a decade – have been given notice that they no longer have jobs, the report says.
In response, a Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are clear there is absolutely no legitimate basis to prevent civilians from travelling to safety.
“We are monitoring the situation with GardaWorld closely and remain in contact with them to provide any required assistance.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “To leave over a hundred guards at the British Embassy in Kabul without protection is a shameful betrayal of brave Afghans who have risked their lives serving alongside our representatives in Afghanistan.
“Ministers should be ashamed. They are not living up to our obligations as a country and are trashing Britain’s reputation around the world.
“Their gross negligence is putting lives at grave risk. They must U-turn on this – urgently”, he added.
“Yet again the foreign secretary has made a dangerous blunder. He should have resigned today and if he is – dishonourably – refusing to go, the prime minister should sack him immediately.”
Sky News understands that the Ministry of Defence is not letting contractors know they could be eligible for help under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, but people and companies are expected to apply for it themselves.
The scheme offers relocation or other assistance to current and former locally employed staff in Afghanistan to reflect the changing situation in the country, according to the government’s website.
Under the new scheme, those deemed to be at serious risk of threat to life will be offered priority relocation to the UK regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served.
The UK has promised to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees, with military flights arriving at RAF Brize Norton each day.