AAfghans who worked for the British but were unable to catch flights from Kabul said the revelation that Boris Johnson appeared to have personally approved the evacuation of the animals last August added to their pain and despair .
“People have died in Afghanistan, because of their links to the UK, but the prime minister just allowed the animals out of there,” said Asif*, senior adviser to UK aid projects for several years. . “It’s like a joke. I see now that animals have a higher value than us.
His pregnant wife was shot dead by Taliban gunmen who raided their home in the fall of 2021. She died in hospital a few days later from her injuries.
Despite years of service and support from his former employer, he was told he was ineligible for refuge in the UK because he was a contractor rather than a direct employee.
He fled Afghanistan and now lives in a mosque in a neighboring country, but the Taliban threatened his brother, demanding he reveal where Asif was hiding.
“We are human beings living here like animals, as they save animals from Afghanistan. It is very painful,” Asif said.
Abdullah*, a British Embassy security officer who worked for GardaWorld in a management role, said he remembered waiting at the airport gate next to vans full of dogs.
“They got permission, and we didn’t. We were there the same day, waiting at the same door,” he said.
“We talked a lot about it – all the guards were very angry – they prioritized the dogs over the guards who had spent years in the service of the British government. Our buses were full of women and children – none of us got through. It was such a bad day for us.
About 180 colleagues had been told they would be on one of the last evacuation flights, but their departure was cut short when Islamic State bombed an entrance to the airport.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) made a clear commitment that all GardaWorld staff would be allowed to travel to the UK, but this has not happened.
“We are still waiting here. Since the embassy closed, we have no work, we have no money to buy food. It is minus 15 in Kabul, and some of us don’t have the money to buy a kilo of wood to heat our homes,” Abdullah said.
“We were told GardaWorld staff would be eligible for evacuation under a new program, but we are still waiting. We really hope the UK government will prioritize us now.
The stories of Asif and Abdullah were part of The Guardian’s Afghanistan Project: The Left Behind.
The series featured the stories of those trapped in Afghanistan or in limbo as they sought refuge, fearing for their lives from Taliban attacks or starving because they could not work.
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity