Government acknowledges Afghans left behind
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada’s efforts to evacuate Canadians and Afghans from the Taliban-controlled country came to an abrupt end Thursday.
The government made the announcement to cease airlifts early Thursday.
“At this time, no further evacuation flights are planned,” read a statement from the Canadian immigration department.
Thousands of Afghans have been gathered at the Kabul airport wanting desperately to flee Afghanistan because they fear Taliban reprisals for helping the US and its allies during military operations. Many also fear a crackdown on freedoms.
The statement from Canada acknowledges it is leaving people behind but said the situation with the Taliban controlling entry to the airport is too dangerous to continue evacuation flights before the US pullout deadline of Aug. 31.
“The government of Canada recognizes that there are a number of people in Afghanistan, including Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their families, and applicants under programs for Afghans,” it said.
It also offered advice for those left behind.
“Until such a time that the security situation stabilizes, be mindful of the security environment and where possible, take the necessary steps to ensure your security and that of your family,” it said.
At a news conference on Thursday, Acting Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre said 3,700 had been evacuated but that is a small number compared to the tens of thousands Canada had hoped to fly to safety.
Eyre said the Kabul airport, surrounded by the Taliban, was too volatile to continue flights.
A warning was issued Thursday by countries conducting evacuations that an attack on the Kabul airport could come at any time, The Associated Press reported.
Eyre said Canadians stayed as long as possible and were among the last to leave. He also acknowledged that leaving Afghans behind was “truly heartbreaking.”