Amanda Milling – 2022 Statement on British Council Staff in Afghanistan

The statement made by Amanda Milling, the Minister for Asia, in the House of Commons on 20 January 2022.

During August 2021, through a shared effort right across Government and our armed forces, we delivered the largest, most complex evacuation in living memory. Between 15 and 19 August, the UK evacuated over 15,000 people from Afghanistan. That included over 8,000 British nationals, and close to 5,000 Afghans who loyally served the UK—including British Council employees—along with their dependants. The UK also evacuated around 500 special cases of particularly vulnerable Afghans, including some British Council contractors, journalists, human rights defenders, campaigners for women’s rights, judges and many others. All former British Council employees have arrived in the UK with their family members. In August, the Government agreed to resettle more than 50 of the most vulnerable British Council contractors, many of whom have already arrived in the UK with their families.

Travel in and out of Afghanistan remains difficult. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is providing assistance and supporting families who are eligible for resettlement in the UK. The Government have also agreed to consider British Council contractors for resettlement based on risk. On 6 January, the Minister for Afghan Resettlement announced the opening of the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme. In its first year, the Government will honour our commitment to offer ACRS places to the most at-risk British Council contractors, as well as GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be in touch with those eligible to support them through the next steps of the process.

The British Council performed an important role in Afghanistan; it worked to support the UK mission in Afghanistan and to promote our values. The Government will do the right thing by British Council employees and contractors, including by resettling those contractors who are most at risk.