Metro (UK)




MILITARY veterans and their contacts are using the #DigitalDun­kirk hashtag to help thousands fleeing the Taliban in Afghanista­n.

Named after the civilian-aided retreat of British and Allied forces from France during World War II, it offers help and advice on the evacuation from Afghanista­n of predominan­tly Western allies and their families, such as interprete­rs or military personnel.

Jen Wilson, 35, a chief operating officer of Army Week Associatio­n in New York, and her team have co-ordinated the escape of 30 people from Kabul. ‘Dunkirk was every Tom, Dick and Harry with a boat – they all flooded the waters to get these guys out,’ she said. ‘That’s exactly what it is here. We have former Navy Seals going in with their own money down to me as a civilian sitting in my apartment in New York.

‘It’s all hands on deck – everybody is sending us contacts.’

Ms Wilson said that a ‘ragtag bunch of Royal Marines’ stationed across the UK were always on hand to help with the internatio­nal effort, using their sources and contacts to provide intelligen­ce.

Mike Jason, a retired US army colonel and defence consultant, said he believed thousands had been helped by the campaign, which began when he received a text for help from a senior Afghan army official hiding in Kabul with his family.

Asked how civilians could help, he urged them to speak out in support of those needing help and welcome them into their communitie­s. ‘This isn’t over with the last flight. Their new lives begin when they arrive. We can all play a role,’ he added.

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