Australia starts evacuating its citizens from Afghanistan

by Sami Burgaz

Prime Minister Morrison says initially 26 people, including Australian, Afghan nationals shifted to Australia’s base in UAE.

ANKARA (AA) – Australia has begun evacuating its citizens from Afghanistan following an improvement in security at the Kabul airport, said the country’s prime minister on Wednesday.

“Last evening, Australia’s operation to commence evacuating Australians and visa holders, Afghan nationals, and others from Kabul commenced,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

He added that initially, 26 people, including Australian and some Afghan nationals, were shifted to Australia’s military base in the UAE.

“This is not a simple process. It’s very difficult for any Australian to imagine the sense of chaos and uncertainty that is existing right across this country, the breakdown in formal communications, the ability to reach people, and we are doing this directly ourselves,” he said.

The development came a day after the country’s defense minister said that due to the chaotic situation at the Kabul airport, Australia has postponed the evacuation of its nationals, troops, and some Afghans who have worked with the Australian Defense Force.

The Australian government has dispatched two more Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and two larger C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft in addition to the existing C-130s to evacuate people from Kabul.

“I can confirm the security situation at the airport has improved, and more broadly across Kabul, he added.

Referring to the chaotic situation at Kabul airport and that many Afghans want to leave the country, Morrison said his country will only allow those Afghans selected through an ongoing humanitarian program for resettling.

“Our policy has not changed. We will be supporting Afghans who have legitimate claims through our official and legitimate processes.”

“We will not be providing that pathway to those who would seek to come any other way. That is a very important message,” the Australian prime minister said while referring to smugglers, who he believes will try to take advantage of the people’s misery.

“I want to send a very clear message to people smugglers in the region that nothing’s changed. I will not give you a product to sell and take advantage of people’s misery. My Government won’t do it. We never have and we never will,” he added.

Australia has already announced that it will accept 3,000 refugees and humanitarian workers this year, with a similar number expected the following year.

The Taliban have rapidly taken Afghanistan in a lightning offensive that has blindsided Western powers as government forces melted away.

The capital Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday after the Afghan government collapsed amid the Taliban’s dizzying advances that prompted President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country.

There were scenes of panic and chaos at the Kabul airport on Monday as desperate residents tried to flee the war-torn country. Deaths were reported as some clung to planes flying out of the capital.


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