One of the WH Tours coaches used in mass deportations
It is unclear as yet what the reason for this is – but we do know that the last two to have been cancelled were called off when some Reliance 'escorts' refused to even land at Kabul airport, so concerned were they for their safety.
And so they should be. The past few months has seen increasing instability, including the emergence of footage of US soldiers urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans; the Qur'an burnings, riots, and the widespread killing of protesters; a massacre in Kandahar; and simulatneous attacks on Western embassies and the Afghan parliament just this weekend.
Referring to Reliance staff, according to a recent report by the Guardian, 'On one recent flight to Kabul they say they were left for several hours on the tarmac at the airport, in freezing conditions and fearing for their safety.' If you think that's tough, would you like to try living there - as the average Afghan? Eleven guards were suspended although it seems that some have since been reinstated.
Afghanistan is a country with a life expectancy of 48. Half a million people are living in internally displaced person's camps, and the civilian death toll continues to rise. Despite this, Western governments are keen to portray the war as a success story, and the widespread refusal of Afghan asylum claimants helps shore up this narrative. In the process, refused Afghan asylum seekers in the UK – including large numbers of teenage boys – are being picked up left right & centre to fill the places on these flights.
Those due to be deported remain in detention and could do with support. See for example the cases of Popal ( http://www.ncadc.org.uk/campaigns/popal/) and Nasib ( http://www.ncadc.org.uk/campaigns/nasibnoor/).
Background to Afghan charters (now known as 'Operation Dickens'):
Guardian on latest with Reliance: