New Zealand, Australia to help evacuate Afghans who aided troops

by Sami Burgaz
Nobody predicted situation in Afghanistan would deteriorate so quickly, says new Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

ANKARA (AA) – New Zealand and Australia announced on Monday that they would help evacuate Afghan nationals who aided their troops previously deployed in the country, according to local media.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that her country would help its nationals and their families evacuate Afghanistan after the its capital Kabul was captured on Sunday by the Taliban, along with Afghans who worked its armed forces, according to state-run Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

The Cabinet has agreed to assist 37 Afghan nationals and their immediate family members who worked with the New Zealand Defense Forces in Afghanistan, added Ardern.

“We are working through this with the utmost urgency,” RNZ quoted the premier as saying, adding that her government had also offered 53 New Zealand citizens in Afghanistan consular support.

Ardern expressed alarm on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, along with “the advance of the Taliban and the threat that poses to those attempting to get out, including foreign nationals.”

She also underlined that her government would also look at ways it could support the humanitarian response to the takeover.

Referring to the evolving situation in Afghanistan, she said there had been no expectation internationally that the situation in Afghanistan would deteriorate so quickly.

“But, it has happened rapidly and so we have responded rapidly,” she said.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that since April, 430 Afghans who worked with Australian forces and their families had already been resttled in Australia.

“We still are working to transfer people. I can’t go into the operational details of that,” Morrison told Sky News in an interview.

Morrison also stressed that Canberra has “no plans” to bilaterally recognize the Taliban. “And, we’re dealing with what is a very dangerous and a very distressing situation in Afghanistan,” he added.

Taliban takes control of Kabul

On Sunday, the Taliban made rapid military advances, taking control of the country as Afghan government forces fled or surrendered.

The insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, according to the group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid.

This came following an eventful day which saw minute-to-minute developments, including the Taliban’s entering the besieged capital and the departure of embattled President Ashraf Ghani along with his close aides.

Following Ghani’s departure, former President Hamid Karzai, veteran politician Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and top peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah formed a council with the aim of ensuring a smooth transfer of power.

Defending his decision, Ghani said in a message that he had left Kabul in order to avoid bloodshed.


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