Soldiers are helping to give Afghan evacuees flown out of the war-torn country a warm welcome to the UK.
Operation Pitting has seen some 1,000 troops deploy to Afghanistan to evacuate British people, entitled Afghans and civilians from partner nations from the country. On the home front, some 40 soldiers are at London Heathrow Airport and RAF Brize Norton, working in support of Border Force and Home Office staff and the RAF to receive Afghans arriving in the UK.
Having soldiers as part of the welcome process at Heathrow and Brize Norton is keeping a military presence at each end of the journey, which the evacuees have found reassuring. Will
Will, the team leader from Field Army, said: “It’s very rewarding and worthwhile to be involved in this work alongside our RAF and civilian partners. The stories that the evacuees are telling of their lives in Afghanistan and the struggle to get out are incredibly humbling, and it’s heartening to be able to show them some kindness as they start a new chapter in their lives."
“For the evacuees, at Kabul they’re mainly being handled through the evacuation by soldiers with some civilian involvement, but as they arrive in the UK that balance changes and it becomes a civilian-led effort. Having soldiers as part of the welcome process at Heathrow and Brize Norton is keeping a military presence at each end of the journey, which the evacuees have found reassuring.”
Through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), interpreters and other Afghan staff who risked their lives working alongside British forces are eligible for relocation to the UK. More than 15,000 people were flown out of Kabul during the operation.