Countries continue to evacuate citizens, locals from Afghanistan

by Sami Burgaz
Efforts follow Taliban’s capture of Kabul, takeover of war-torn country after 20 years.

ANKARA (AA) – Thousands of people, including women and children, rushed to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital, hoping to be evacuated in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of the war-torn country after 20 years.

As the Taliban announced a general amnesty, Afghans who worked with the government or foreign organizations have voiced concern over the group’s retribution and fear for their lives.

Meanwhile, on Monday, US President Joe Biden announced an increase of the security perimeter around Kabul airport, adding his country’s evacuation efforts are continuing to ferry people out of Afghanistan.

In that respect, according to official US data, about 28,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14, when Kabul fell to the Taliban.

“As of this morning, we have evacuated nearly 28,000 people since Aug. 14, on both US and coalition aircraft, including civilian charters, bringing the total number of people we have evacuated since July to approximately 33,000 persons,” Biden said on Sunday briefing.

According to the UK Defense Ministry, more than 3,800 people were evacuated amid the Taliban’s advancement.

On Sunday, Australian Premier Scott Morrison said his country ran four flights into Kabul the previous day and evacuated more than 300 people, including Australians and other foreign nationals.

Morrison previously said his government would not be able to help all Afghans who assisted their military units after the Taliban entered the capital.

Since Aug. 18, the Australian government has evacuated more than 550 people from Kabul.

The German Foreign Office announced Monday that the country had evacuated approximately 2,700 people, including “Germans, Afghans and nationals of international partners” since Monday last week.

Germany was earlier criticized for taking the army’s stocks of beer and wine out of Afghanistan in June but leaving Afghan nationals alone in the country where the Taliban gained control.

The French Foreign Ministry on Aug. 18 announced that the country had evacuated more than 200 people.

The Danish Defense Ministry said Monday on Twitter that one of its military planes had brought 50 more people out of Kabul the previous night, taking the number of people evacuated to more than 650.

According to the Netherlands’ Defense Ministry, the country has evacuated more than 500 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 18.

Last week, the local newspaper El Pais said Spain would try to evacuate as many as 600 people from Afghanistan. So far, the country has evacuated at least 450 people from Kabul, including both Afghan nationals and Spaniards.

Additionally, the Italian Defense Ministry announced yesterday that more than 1,700 people had arrived in Italy in the last seven days while another 203 Afghan refugees made it safely to Italy on Monday.

Also, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a local daily last week that his country is working with other countries, especially the US, on evacuation and other issues at Kabul airport.

He said Turkey’s priority is to evacuate those remaining Turkish citizens who want to return.

As of Tuesday, Turkey had evacuated over 1,400 people from Kabul, while about 200 more others were waiting to be evacuated.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that his country had evacuated 83 people from Kabul on Sunday.

Separately, Ukraine’s presidential office said that over 100 Ukrainians remain in Afghanistan.

Croatia announced last Wednesday that all 26 Croatian citizens were evacuated from Afghanistan. The Croatian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, thanked the US, UK, Germany as well as Ukraine authorities for their support.

For Serbia, two nationals were evacuated from Kabul while one woman remains at the airport waiting to be evacuated, according to the local N1 news channel.

On Aug. 22, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told a local television station that more than 350 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan so far.

Also, India is continuing its efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan, with the country flying out more than 470 people from Kabul since last week.

There were also reports of at least 20 people being killed during the rush of those trying to flee Afghanistan.

Those foreigners and Afghan nationals wishing to depart the country immediately had to leave their vehicles at a checkpoint at Hamid Karzai International Airport before proceeding to the runway, which had then become a mess following gunfire and a stampede.

Dozens of vehicles were destroyed by people who were unable to enter the airport, leaving a cluster of junk cars parked at the airport security checkpoint.

Taliban gain control over Afghanistan

As part of a peace deal reached in February 2020 between the US and the Taliban, international forces began their withdrawal process from Afghanistan this year.

The agreement mandated that the Taliban not target foreign forces, but there was no provision regarding its actions towards Afghan security forces.

While maintaining negotiations with the government in the Qatari capital Doha, the Taliban intensified its attacks since June, taking control of many districts and provincial centers.

The group took the capital Kabul under its control on Aug. 15.


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