Foreign Office staff left details of Afghans at British Embassy for Taliban to find

Afghan people wanting to leave the country queue up in front of the British and Canadian embassy in Kabul on August 19, 2021 after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan.   / AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR
Foreign Office staff reportedly left sensitive documents with details of Afghan employees for the Taliban to find. (AFP)

The UK's Foreign Office staff left sensitive documents containing the contact details of Afghans who had been working for them at the British Embassy in Kabul, risking them being found by the Taliban, it has been reported. 

The Times reported that the paperwork, which should have been shredded so Afghans at risk of reprisals couldn't be tracked down, was found left at the compound which was evacuated on 15 August and has now been seized by the Taliban. 

The newspaper's own reporter described finding papers identifying seven Afghans, as well as CVs of locals who had applied for jobs, including a 33-year-old who had applied for an interpreter's job and the embassy's 30-year-old cook and housekeeper.

Three families whose details were left behind have now been rescued and taken to safety, the Foreign Office has said.  

Watch: Documents left at British embassy in Kabul

The Times said it had made phone calls to numbers on the documents, revealing that some Afghan employees and their families had been left stranded, with one man reportedly begging: "Please don’t leave us behind".

The newspaper reported that it had passed details of the missing staff to the Foreign Office, prompting the rescue of three families, but the fate of least two job people who had applied for jobs as interpreters remained unknown.

The Foreign Office told The Times: "During the drawdown of our embassy every effort was made to destroy sensitive material."

The report will add to criticism of the Foreign Office already came under fire for its handling of the crisis in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was criticised for going on holiday despite the escalating situation in the country in recent weeks. He returned on 15 August.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee shared The Times story on Twitter, writing: "How @FCDOGovUK handled this crisis will be the subject of a coming @CommonsForeign inquiry. The evidence is already coming in."

It was also suggested that information on Afghans who had helped US forces by working with them has also been left behind in the form of biometric data that has now been seized by the Taliban. 

Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer, a former British Army officer, shared a video on Twitter outlining equipment that had been left by the US and now seized by the Taliban, writing: "This will stop you in your tracks. Unbelievable.

"We gave them the names of those we trained to fight them. And some we will leave behind to the violence we see at the airport. An appalling day, verging from rage to tears."

It has also been reported that US officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens and Afghan allies to grant them entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of Kabul's Airport - sparking criticism of the decision.