Afghanistan Crisis: Dominic Raab says he plans to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan as 'Britain's hearts go out' to citizens
Discussing the measures that can be taken to ensure better outcomes in Afghanistan, Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “We will reconfigure our aid budget. We of course will not give the security capacity building money that we previously gave to the government to the Taliban.”
But he added: “I expect that we will increase our aid budget for development and humanitarian purposes, probably by 10 per cent is what I have in mind on last year. We want to try and make sure it won’t go through the Taliban, but make sure that we can alleviate the humanitarian suffering.”
Mr Raab told Sky News this morning that the situation at the airport in Kabul is “stabilising” and “we have made real progress” in getting people out of the country.
He said: “We had 150 British nationals come out on Sunday, over the last week we have also had 289 of those Afghan nationals who have served the UK so loyally in Afghanistan, and we expect over the next 24 hours to have 350 more both British nationals and Afghan nationals who have worked for us coming out.
“So the situation is stabilising, but obviously we are monitoring it very carefully."
Speaking earlier on BBC Breakfast, he said that “Britain’s hearts go out” to the citizens of Afghanistan as events unfold.
He said: “Our hearts go out to the Afghan people, who now face what feels like a pretty hostile Taliban takeover. That’s why we’ve been there, not just to protect the United Kingdom and our allies from insecurity… but to try and improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.
“Those scenes are distressing, but we’ve got to make sure that the airport is stabilised and secure, precisely so, at least in the short term, we get our nationals out and we allow secure safe passage to those who served us so loyally over the last 20 years.”
He added he was not able to confirm how many refugees would be coming to the UK, stating that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would “set out the details in due course”.
Mr Raab defended the Government’s intelligence from Afghanistan, saying the UK had been tracking “very carefully” what was happening not just “for the last week” but since discussions started about the US withdrawal, which began last year.
He said: “We didn’t anticipate the scale or the rapidity of the deterioration of the situation. We thought it would happen more towards the autumn and much more gradually.
“Of course there is still this question of whether the civilian government that we saw in place before, the Afghan government, and the Taliban would come to some kind of arrangement.”
Asked how sorry he was that he did not return from his holiday earlier, he said he returned “as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it”.
He said: “Everyone was caught off-guard by the pace and scale of the Taliban takeover.
“But look, in retrospect of course I wouldn’t have gone on holiday if I had known that would be the case.”
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