21-Year-Old British Student, Who Went Viral Over Afghan Holiday, Evacuated

A British student who travelled to Afghanistan for a holiday shortly before the Taliban takeover has now been evacuated from the country. Miles Routledge, 21, said he wanted to explore what he described as the “worst places in the world”, reports Manchester Evening News. The Taliban insurgency in the country, however, forced him into hiding until he was evacuated on Tuesday.
Mr Routledge, of Birmingham, reached Afghanistan on Friday, when the Taliban had already captured Kandahar and Lashkar Gah and were advancing towards Kabul. The 21-year-old, whose ill-advised trip prompted much criticism on social media, had been posting regular updates from his time in Afghanistan on Facebook, Twitch and 4chan.

On Tuesday, he shared footage of his evacuation to Dubai in what he said was a British Army plane. “The happy ending: landed in Dubai thanks to the brilliant people at the British army. All safe!” he wrote.

His social media accounts have since been wiped clean and all posts deleted. Screenshots that are still available online show that Mr Routledge had shared photos that show him posing with weapons, regular updates on his whereabouts and pics from the places he visited in Afghanistan. His evacuation video has also been widely shared and re-posted online.

Mr Routledge told BBC he was “exhausted but relieved” after his evacuation.

The British student has attracted criticism online for travelling to Afghanistan, where for more than two decades, authorities have advised against all but essential travel. The fact that Mr Routledge was evacuated even as thousands of locals who had helped US and British forces during their time in Afghanistan were left behind only added to the anger.

“Why was he prioritized for evacuation? He should have been at the back of the line behind British citizens there serving the country and the Afghans who helped them,” wrote one Twitter user.

“He took a spot on that plane that could have got an Afghani girl or woman out instead,” another said.

“Miles Routledge basically took a seat on an evacuation flight from a genuine Afghan refugee,” a Twitter user remarked.

Mr Routledge had earlier claimed that he was stranded in Afghanistan and holed up in a United Nations safe house. His claim could not be verified by a UN spokesperson. The Loughborough University physics student also said that he had been forced to wear a burqa to flee to the Kabul Airport as the situation in the country worsened.

Afghanistan’s elected government collapsed as the Taliban completed their takeover of Kabul on Sunday evening. In their first press conference since seizing the capital Kabul, the Taliban on Tuesday promised peace, prosperity, and appeared to depart from previous rules of banning women from work, but people remain wary.