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Johnson says UK will try to avert humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Published: Updated:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday Britain would do everything it could to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan where he described the capture of the country by the Taliban as happening faster than expected.

Addressing parliament, which was recalled to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Johnson also ruled out an inquiry into British conduct in the nation, saying most questions had already been looked into.

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“We will be ... doing everything we can to support those who have helped the UK mission in Afghanistan, and investing everything that we can to support the wider area around Afghanistan, and to do everything we can to avert a humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Britain has evacuated more than 2,000 Afghans since the Taliban takeover, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers on Wednesday, as parliament was recalled to discuss the crisis.

“We have so far secured the safe return of 306 UK nationals and 2,052 Afghan nationals as part of our resettlement program,” he said, adding that 2,000 more Afghan applications were complete, and “many more” being processed.

Johnson said it was an “illusion” to believe any nation in the NATO military alliance wanted to restart military action in Afghanistan after the Taliban took power.

“I really think that it is an illusion to believe that there is appetite amongst any of our partners for a continued military presence or for a military solution imposed by NATO in Afghanistan,” Johnson told parliament.

“That idea ended with the combat mission in 2014, and I do not believe ... that deploying tens of thousands of British troops to fight the Taliban is an option.”

Johnson said the Taliban would be judged on their actions, not their words. The Taliban have said they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law. But thousands of Afghans, many of whom helped foreign forces, are desperate to leave.

“We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes, and by its actions rather than by its words, on its attitude to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access, and the rights of girls to receive an education,” Johnson told parliament, which was recalled from its summer break to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

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