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Brit Trapped in Afghanistan Plans Daring Escape

Ex-bodyguard Ben Slater aims to lead 400 Afghans out by land
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2021 4:38 PM CDT
Former British Soldier Plans Daring Afghan Escape
File photo of a U.S. Chinook helicopter flying over the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in mid-August. Helicopters were landing at the embassy as diplomatic vehicles left the compound amid the Taliban advance on the Afghan capital.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

(Newser) – A British man who once was in the Royal Military Police and now runs a company called Nomad Concepts Group got stuck in Afghanistan with about 50 employees, most of whom are women. He wasn’t able to get a visa in time to airlifted out of the country. So Ben Slater, 37, a former bodyguard to British ambassadors serving overseas, made a plan to get himself and 400 Afghans, including his employees, out of the country, the Telegraph reports.

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"It’s going to be a long trip," says Slater, who hopes Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will have visas waiting for him at his destination. The route his convoy is taking is a secret; while the Taliban has promised to let foreign nationals out, many of the people he’s trying to shepherd across the border are vulnerable to retribution. The UK government has told anyone still in Afghanistan to travel by land to a neighboring country, but that’s trickier than it might sound. Not all borders are open, and Russia is openly discouraging Central Asian countries from accepting refugees.

Pakistan’s border is only open to trucks, Uzbekistan requires a visa, Turkmenistan is closed to Afghan nationals, and Iran has closed its borders, the Daily Mail reports. Slater says he helped get dozens of people out of the country during the airlift, and feels “massively let down” that his government didn’t give his employees visas before the end of the operation. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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