Photo: Joseph Seaton

British Council accused of abandoning Afghan employees by former director

The British Council has been accused abandoning its staff in Afghanistan, leaving them at risk of being targeted by the Taliban due to their links to the British government.

Speaking to the Independent newspaper, former British Council Deputy Director in Afghanistan, Joseph Seaton, who worked in Afghanistan until the fall of Kabul 18 months ago, stated that 109 of his Afghan colleagues remain in the country and in hiding, despite being eligible for the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). And that since August 2021, not one teacher who worked for the British Council has been brought to the UK from Afghanistan.

Joseph Seaton said the British Council had “sought to distance themselves from their responsibilities” towards former staff. The organisation, he said, had refused to engage with its employees in Afghanistan and didn’t know how many were still in the country, or whether any of them have travel documents to escape. “It might sound like it’s just paperwork and bureaucracy but it’s not – it’s a life and death matter. Frankly, it’s a shoddy, dismissive and lazy approach,” he said.

| Britain has accepted no Afghans under its Afghan resettlement scheme
| Over 70,000 Afghans await to know if they will be resettled in Britain

Seaton urged the British Council to take take a more active role in supporting its staff in Afghanistan through direct engagements and providing financial assistance for passports and visas, referencing a KabulNow special report on the costs of passports.

 The British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) minister for South Asia, Lord Tariq Ahmad, told the House of Lords that his office was “working closely with the British Council,” acknowledging that “there are challenges and we need to expedite the process.”

A recent report by the British Parliament’s Defence Select Committee said Britain’s withdrawal from Afghanistan had been “a dark chapter” in the country’s military history, and called for an “honest” inquiry.