Anger as Afghan teachers ‘are abandoned to the Taliban’ after they were left behind during Kabul withdrawal
- Over 100 teaching personnel for the British Council ‘were not airlifted to safety’
- Dozens of former teachers have said their faith in Britain has been ‘shattered’
- The staff are now reportedly in hiding and changing address to avoid the Taliban
A whistleblower has accused the British Council of abandoning staff to the Taliban.
Joe Seaton, a former Afghanistan manager for the organisation, said 100 personnel who were on the ‘front lines of teaching’ had not been airlifted to safety.
He claimed bosses helped staff based in Kabul relocate while those who were the ‘face of Britain’ across the country remain in hiding from the Taliban. He said these people now faced revenge attacks because of their work for the UK.
‘These educators, who delivered the UK Government’s foreign policy objectives, and who were highly visible and recognisable to a wary and sceptical public, have now been left behind by the BC and the UK Government, and are all living in hiding and changing their addresses frequently in order to avoid the Taliban,’ he added.
Dozens of former staff say their belief in Britain has been ‘shattered’ by months of waiting to hear the result of applications to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy programme. They say that no cases appear to have been processed yet.
Former British Council deputy director in Kabul and whistleblower Joe Seaton pictured in Afghanistan with teachers he says feel abandoned
Mr Seaton said the teachers had been contracted under a UK-funded scheme to teach British values of diversity, inclusion and equality – values the Taliban oppose. One 29-year-old former teacher and mother, who applied for sanctuary in June, has had to change hiding places six times in three different cities.
‘I no longer believe the British care about us,’ she said. ‘I was the local face of Britain in more than 50 schools promoting the English language and British values which makes me and my family targets not only for the Taliban but Islamic State too – they want to make examples of us.
‘I am one of 20 women who believed in Britain, what it told me and what it stood for but we feel very vulnerable and cannot understand why it is so hard to make a decision. We have been abandoned and it is terrifying.’
Mr Seaton said he had decided to speak out and support the Daily Mail’s award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign, which has highlighted the cases of staff left behind.
He said: ‘The BC trained them in equality, diversity and inclusion then asked them to deliver that training across Afghanistan, but now does not treat them in accordance with the values it claims to uphold.’
Taliban Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani speaks during a press conference in Kabul yesterday
Another teacher, who worked for two years for the BC, said: ‘It is shameful. It is a kind of torture that the UK does not even have the compassion to tell us if we qualify to relocate.’
Kate Ewart-Biggs, deputy head of the British Council, said more ‘needed to be done urgently’ but insisted: ‘Afghan colleagues are never forgotten, we continue to work tirelessly on their behalf to press for a speedy resolution.
‘We reject the idea that we have in any way abandoned our former colleagues. The relocation scheme is run by the UK Government and although the BC is not involved in the decision-making process, we have been pushing for progress.’
The Foreign Office said last night: ‘We undertook the UK’s biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in generations, helping over 15,000 people to leave Afghanistan safely.
‘We are continuing to support them. The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme will also soon open, giving up to 20,000 people at risk a new life in the UK.’
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