Boris Johnson will hold a Cobra meeting at 12.30pm today as the government tries to get thousands of UK nationals and foreign visa holders out of Afghanistan.
Number 10 said the current focus was on getting hundreds of people out of Kabul each day as the security situation becomes more dangerous in the Afghani capital.
Taliban fighters reached the capital yesterday and took over the Presidential Palace, less than three months after Joe Biden announced the complete withdrawal of US troops from the country.
The UK’s ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Laurie Bristow has stayed behind in Kabul to help process visa applications and is being aided by Home Office staff who have been flown out.
Around 600 British military personnel are also helping with efforts to evacuate people from the country, with 370 flown back to the UK on Saturday.
“We’ll see significant numbers flying out day by day as we continue to use the airport to take people out,” Johnson’s spokesperson said.
Five people have reportedly been killed at Kabul airport today as thousands of people rushed to board planes on the tarmac.
Desperate scenes of hundreds of Afghani civilians chasing after US military planes that are about to takeoff have also been circulated across social media.
There have also been reports of people falling off the outside of planes taking off from Hamid Karzai International.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace today admitted that some UK nationals would not be able to escape Afghanistan.
When asked about how long the UK will repatriate people from Kabul, Johnson’s spokesperson said: “We want to continue to do this as long as we are able to do so and as long as it is safe to do so.
“The US has said they’re leaving at the end of the month – we keep it under review and will continue to do it as long as we can do so.”
Speaking last night, Johnson said: “It is clear there is going to be – or there is going to be very shortly – a new government in Kabul, a new political dispensation.
“We want a united position amongst all the like minded [countries] – as far as we can get one- so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into being a breeding ground for terror.”
Taliban fighters were able to sweep through Afghanistan in just over a week in a lightning quick offensive, which has seen them take Kabul and forced President Ashraf Ghani to flee.
Biden has refused to take responsibility for the unfolding disaster, saying over the weekend that Afghani forces should have been able to repel the Taliban’s offensive.
“I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth,” he said.
There have already been reports of girls as young as 12 being taken into sex slavery by the extremist Islamist group and of women being prevented from going to university classes.
Women were forced to wear a Burqa and not allowed to work or get an education under the Taliban’s previous regime.
Johnson’s former national security adviser Lord Mark Sedwill told the BBC that the Taliban’s rise will pose a direct threat to British security.
Afghanistan under the Taliban became a training ground for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks.
“We have to see whether the Taliban will honour their commitments not to allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists and indeed drug traffickers as well,” Sedwill said.
“I think that’s one of the two or three things we really must do now to in response to this, is work with China, Russia, Afghanistan’s neighbours and others who have – whatever our differences on other issues – a common interest in ensuring that Afghanistan does not become another source of terrorism.”