Hundreds of Afghans employed by G4S to guard the British embassy until last year fear being killed by the Taliban after being abandoned by the British, while their successors promised to l Helpers last week have since received only layoff notices.
Ahmad (not her real name), a former close protection officer and interpreter at the British Embassy, made a desperate appeal to the Prime Minister. “If I could send a message to Boris Johnson, I would cry out to him for help – if he doesn’t help us, we will be killed,” he said by phone from Kabul.
Ahmad is now in hiding with his family – one of some 300 G4S employees now doing the same – and is convinced that they will be killed by the Taliban if they are found because of their work with the British.
The group applied for assistance and asylum under the UK government’s Resettlement and Assistance in Afghanistan (Arap) policy, but they said they were turned down because they had not been hired directly by the British government.
He said: “Last Tuesday, [the Taliban] came to my father’s house to pick me up and my papers. I cannot eat, I cannot not sleep. I can’t talk to people because I’m scared. My family is in a terrible situation. My wife is crying. We are abandoned.
Ahmad was working at the British Embassy before G4S lost the contract in June 2020 with global security firm GardaWorld. As proof, he shared a photo of himself with a delegation from the British Embassy at Camp Arena in Herat on November 15, 2018.
Last week, the government said all 125 GardaWorld security staff would be granted the right to enter the UK after their plight was highlighted by the Guardian, but staff have had no news or any advice on how to leave Kabul since then.
The only communication they received on Sunday was an official termination letter from GardaWorld, telling them that their services were no longer required.
Written in Dari, the letter to be circulated to all staff working on the British Embassy contract read: “Dear colleagues at GardaWorld, because Afghanistan faces an uncertain future, recent events across the country mean that GardaWorld has no choice but to suspend its operations. in Afghanistan immediately and indefinitely.
The local guard supervisor said everyone felt “overwhelmed and hopeless” when they read the letter, which was sent by the regional director for Afghanistan based in Dubai.
“We know a lot of people working for funded projects in the UK, US and Canada. None of them did this to their staff. Instead of helping us out of this situation when our lives are in great danger, they are sending this termination letter, ”said the supervisor of the guards.
The letter said any further payment would depend on negotiations between the Foreign Office and GardaWorld. The letter also stated that negotiations were continuing on how to bring staff to the airport. Company management was confident that British visas would be granted to the guards, but the logistics of getting them into the airport remain difficult.
The rest of the company’s UK staff were taken from the company compound to Kabul airport on Friday, in an evacuation operation for all expatriate GardaWorld staff. None of the Afghan guards were included, the supervisor said.
Most of the guards have now fled their own homes because they no longer feel safe, he added. “We made small bags and we are waiting for news. We asked to be transported to the airport. We hope they will, but we are running out of time. Everyone is afraid.
The outlook is even bleaker for former G4S employees, most of whom were employed by the company until last week, when the Taliban entered Kabul.
Mohammad, 41 – who was a senior surveillance official at the World Bank in Kabul until last week, and who had also worked as a security guard at the British Embassy – said the group was “desperate” .
He enlisted the help of G4S and the UK government on behalf of the group. “G4S said we should seek asylum. They didn’t do anything for us, but they should help.
He added: “We have questioned the UK government on several occasions on the asylum issue, but all emails have been rejected. “
Mohammad has three sons and four daughters aged 1 to 13. He said: “We are hiding at home, we cannot go out. The Taliban are searching house by house in the capital, now trying to find someone who has worked with foreigners. Absolutely, they’ll kill me if they find me.
He said if he had an email from the UK government he could gain access to the airport and be able to fly safely.
He said he contacted the Guardian after learning about the government’s turnaround towards GardaWorld staff. “They didn’t do anything for GardaWorld until the Guardian complaint. If you post any details about our situation, it should inspire them to do something for us. “
The Guardian also spoke to Rashid, a security contractor who narrowly survived an attack on the G4S compound in 2018 and was a close friend of British bombing victim Luke Griffin.
He said: “I left the G4S compound a few minutes before the attack. I was doing insurgency training for the UK. The Taliban will certainly find and kill G4S personnel.
He sent a photograph of his G4S security badge as proof of identity. Until Sunday August 15, when the Taliban entered Kabul, Rashid was employed as the G4S fire marshal at the World Bank.
He said: “G4S paid our salary 75 days in advance since the day of the Kabul collapse and nothing else. They told us that there was nothing they could do to protect us or evacuate us. We asked them to push the UK government to include us in the Arap program, but they did not help.
A G4S spokesperson said: “G4S has used all available measures to help Afghan national employees. We have made strong representations to the UK Foreign Office and provided all Afghan employees with employment certificates and letters of recommendation to substantiate their eligibility for the UK government’s Afghan resettlement program.
The Foreign Ministry has been contacted for comment.