'We feel abandoned:' Brits in Afghanistan make plea to UK government in secretly filmed video

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports on the plea issued on behalf of more than 100 Britons stuck in Afghanistan

A group of 30 Brits stuck in Afghanistan two months after evacuation flights from Kabul airport were stopped, have appealed to the UK government for their lives in a secretly filmed video message sent to ITV News.

The group, many of whom are NHS workers, builders, plumbers and taxi drivers, say they feel forgotten by the UK government.

The plea by the group, representing a WhatsApp group of more than a 100 Brits, comes nearly three months after the Taliban takeover.

"We need to get back to our lives in the UK," they say.

"We demand that the government does not walk away from its responsibilities towards its citizens and their families"

Reading out a message on behalf of those gathered in the room and beyond its walls, the group's spokesperson said many of them had missed the evacuation flights due to the "chaos" at the airport and the strict checkpoints in the days leading up to Western forces pulling out of the country.

At the time, those involved described the "utter chaos" of the airport as thousands tried to escape the Taliban. Many were unable to do so and remain in Afghanistan now.

Among those left behind, 30 managed to come together to make this direct appeal to the UK government.

The message accuses the UK government of "abandoning" its citizens, saying that Pen Farthing, who evacuated 150 dogs and cats from Kabul on a privately funded charter flight at the end of August, did a "better job" than Westminster.

People attempting to leave Afghanistan run alongside a US military plane

Ten-year-old Alfie's dad is among those trapped in Kabul. His father is at high risk from the Taliban, who killed his brother and father who both worked for the government and police, before the takeover. He had gone out to Afghanistan in July to save rest of family. 

Alfie's mother Margaret says he cries when he speaks to his dad, and wants to know why he is not here.

Alfie makes his own plea to the British government: "Send my dad home. Bring him back home."Margaret adds: "Do something. Get them a flight home. They need to be home."

Alfie's dad, along with the others on the video, are hoping their direct plea means that he will be seeing his son again soon.

The spokesperson on the video message says: "Thirty out of the 100 British citizens in our WhatsApp group have managed to meet up at a secret location in the outskirts of Kabul today, the 18 of October 2021."

He continues: "We met to simply record this message in the hope that someone out there will hear a voice and take action to rescue us and our families. We are not just a group of ordinary citizens, we provide public services in the UK. We are businessmen, key workers, engineers, NHS workers, builders, plumbers, taxi drivers, and we also have a professional boxer amongst us.

"We demand that the government does not walk away from its responsibilities towards its citizens and their families. "It looks like Pen Farthing has done a much better job in taking responsibility for his cats and dogs than the UK government has taken for its citizens and their families left behind. "Although we cannot forget the enormous sacrifices men and women in uniform made to help and evacuate thousands of us to safety during Operation Pitting, we stand with them and we thank them. But the mission is not accomplished yet. We are still stranded and need to get back to our lives in the UK.

"Please, waive all visa requirements for our immediately families and evacuate us with our families to safety.

"Kabul airport is now fully operational, and chartered flights are taking off daily to evacuate the US citizens. It looks like the UK has completely forgotten and abandoned us. We demand the UK government that's now arrange for chartered flights immediately for all the British citizens and their immediate family members."

Earlier this month, ITV News revealed the scale, and the terrifying situation, of those Britons still stuck in Afghanistan, with those unable to get out fearing for their lives and those of their families.

The end of the Western military presence also concluded the airborne evacuation effort from Kabul, leaving Afghans wanting to escape the Taliban facing an uncertain future.

Even for those Brits who have escaped over the border to Pakistan, the nightmare continues.

ITV News spoke to one man who is still waiting for safe passage home, two months after fleeing to Pakistan after being beaten up by the Taliban. He says he feels "completely ignored" by the British High Commission.

"It's very depressing. Believe me, I'm going through so much thing and I have, I can't take it no more because it's really, really, really tough. I don't know why they don't understand, because I I'm trying, I'm not lying. I'm not doing anything. I'm trying my best to get out from here. That's all I'm asking them," he told ITV News.

The Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan in August Credit: Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP

The dangers of Taliban-run Afghanistan was highlighted this week when suicide bombers killed at least 47 people at a mosque in Afghanistan that was packed with worshippers attending Friday prayers - the deadliest blast since the US pulled its military operation from the country after 20 years.

It came a week after a bombing by an Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan.

Other countries are able to pull their citizens out, to the frustrating of British politicians who have constituents trapped there.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith told ITV News: "American are shipping out 300 a week. We don't seem to have any register on that scale at the moment, and that is a problem.

Asked if he agreed the UK was not getting people out quickly enough, he replied: "It appears that the results are that we are not getting British passport out, so we have to say it's not happening quickly enough."

The UK pulled out its remaining troops and diplomatic personnel on August 28, while US forces finally withdrew from Afghanistan three days later, a day ahead of the deadline set by President Joe Biden, bringing to an end a deployment which began in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks two decades ago.

At the time, Boris Johnson said he felt "a great sense of regret" that not everybody eligible will be evacuated out of Afghanistan before the August 31 withdrawal deadline set by the Americans. 

An FCDO spokesperson said: “We will continue to do all we can to secure safe passage to enable British nationals and eligible Afghans to leave the country.”