British ex-soldier, 37, stranded in Kabul plots escape route to lead 400 Afghan staff including women across Taliban-controlled borders to safety
A former soldier who served with the British Armed Forces has plotted an escape route over Taliban controlled borders in a bid to get himself and 400 Afghans to safety.
Ben Slater, 37, used to serve in the Royal Military Police but now runs a business in Kabul called Nomad Concepts Group.
The ex-soldier, who worked as a bodyguard to British ambassadors abroad, claims the Foreign Office failed to secure visas for the evacuation of himself and his 50 staff, mostly Afghan women.
Mr Slater said he was left with no choice but to flee by land and has shared his plans with the UK Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence in the hope they will receive assistance as soon as possible.
It comes amid concerns that leaving Afghanistan by land will be near impossible due to closed borders, abandoned foreign embassies and Taliban checkpoints.
According to the Telegraph, Mr Slater has already helped dozens of Afghans flee the country but was unable to secure help are at risk of retribution from the Taliban for his staff – are at risk of retribution from the Taliban.
Ben Slater (pictured), an ex-soldier who served with the British Armed Forces, has plotted an escape route over Taliban controlled borders in a bid to get himself and 400 Afghans to safety
Mr Slater told the Telegraph: ‘It’s going to be a long trip, and I am hoping on the other end that the FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] have got our visas sorted, or at least have spoken to the foreign affairs ministry in our destination country to allow access for our vulnerable staff.’
The newspaper reports that Mr Slater described himself as being ‘massively let down’ by the UK Government.
Mr Slater told The Telegraph: ‘I was given one hour’s notice to send in my people’s names, the vehicles and stuff like that.
‘And that seemed a little bit like that was set up for me to miss the deadline. But we did it, and then it went sort of quiet, and then there was a little bit of “oh, you can’t come because you can’t get through the Taliban checkpoint”.’
Mr Slater eventually ‘lost his marbles’ after he was apparently transferred to an automated call centre on Friday and was put ‘back at zero’.
He says he has launched his own operation to save 400 Afghan nationals includes the 50 staff and himself.
Last week, the UK anyone who is still trying to get out of Afghanistan to head for the border rather than attempt to get into Kabul airport where US and British forces were winding down their operations.
But there are concerns that leaving Afghanistan is impossible because borders are closed, foreign embassies have been abandoned and the Taliban have put up hundreds of checkpoints.
Mr Slater (pictured), who runs Nomad Concept Group in Kabul, said he and his staff are at risk of retribution from the Taliban and that they had all been let down by the UK Government
Although the Taliban has made assurances that they will allow those fleeing their rule to leave the country unharmed, Mr Slater is concerned this will not be the case.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) refused to comment on Mr Slater’s case, saying it does not comment on individual cases.
But it said in a statement: ‘Our staff are working tirelessly to facilitate the swift evacuation of British nationals, Afghan staff and others at risk.
‘The scale of the evacuation effort is huge and we have helped nearly 15,000 people leave Afghanistan since the evacuation began. We continue to put pressure on the Taliban to allow safe passage out of Afghanistan for those who want to leave.’
It comes after the UN pressured the militant group to uphold their promise as the security council passed a resolution in New York yesterday.
The Security Council also made clear that Afghanistan must never again become a ‘safe haven’ for international terrorists.
The UK’s ambassador Dame Barbara Woodward stressed ‘a co-ordinated approach will be vital to counter any extremist threat emanating from Afghanistan’.
The humanitarian situation also needs to be urgently addressed – with complete access for UN agencies and aid organisations – and the progress made on human rights in the 20 years since the US-led coalition became involved in Afghanistan must also be protected, she said.
No way out: Interpreters fear that fleeing from Afghanistan by land is almost impossible as borders close, Taliban put up checkpoints and last US evacuation flight leaves Kabul
- Limited options to escape Afghanistan laid bare in military briefing document
- Examines all the rescue options through Afghanistan’s surrounding neighbours
- Popular Torkham crossing is ‘now impassable’ and ‘blocked by Taliban’, it adds
By Marc Nicol and Daniel Martin for the Daily Mail
Escaping Afghanistan by land is all but impossible because borders are closed, foreign embassies have been abandoned and the Taliban have put up hundreds of checkpoints, former interpreters warned yesterday.
The limited options were laid bare in a briefing document circulated among British military officers as the final RAF evacuation flights left Kabul at the weekend.
It examines all the rescue options through Afghanistan’s neighbours – but spells out that few are currently realistic or viable.
The most obvious route is through Pakistan but the document warns that this ‘is looking very problematic’.
Examining Pakistan’s key routes, the document says that the popular Torkham crossing is ‘now impassable’ and ‘blocked by Taliban’.
Referring to the crossing from the town of Spin Boldak, the note says there are ‘huge numbers of people at the border’.
It continues: ‘Only trucks are being allowed to cross at the moment and people with an existing Afghan refugee card for Pakistan.’ It adds that Tajikistan is ‘looking the most humanitarian’ and is ‘preparing for 100,000 arrivals’. But the note continues: ‘Certain countries are just closed.’
Uzbekistan is said to be closed to those without a visa, with the note adding: ‘Even Afghans who live [there] are not being allowed back in.’ Turkmenistan is shut to Afghan nationals trying to cross, according to the document. And Iran has ‘closed its borders in all three provinces neighbouring Afghanistan to stop Afghans crossing’.
There is no reference to the border with China, which is not expected to allow Afghans in even though Beijing has fostered a relationship with the Taliban.
Planes are seen on the tarmac at the airport in Kabul late on August 30, 2021, hours ahead of a US deadline to complete its frenzied withdrawal from Afghanistan
Details of several British embassies in the neighbouring countries are given but the note warns that the one in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, is currently closed.
The shocking assessment came as a former bodyguard to the British ambassador pledged to lead 400 refugees on a dramatic escape mission.
Ben Slater, 37, who helped dozens of people get on ‘freedom flights’ last week, was left stranded in Kabul apparently due to bureaucratic issues with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
But Mr Slater, who ran a humanitarian group in Afghanistan, is now working with the FCDO to lead vulnerable Afghans to a neighbouring country from where he and they can fly to Britain.
He said last night: ‘It is going to be a long trip, I am hoping the FCDO will have sorted out our visas so our vulnerable staff can reach their destination.’