NewsAfghan Exodus: the scramble to evacuate from Kabul airport

Afghan Exodus: the scramble to evacuate from Kabul airport

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Kabul, Afghanistan: Here are the latest developments in the chaotic evacuation of Western citizens and local allies from Kabul airport after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15.

Airport gunfight

German and US forces engaged in a gun battle against “unknown assailants” at Kabul airport on Monday morning that killed an Afghan guard and injured three others, according to the German military.

The deaths were the latest in a scramble to leave the country that has claimed the lives of at least eight people, some crushed to death, with at least one person falling from a moving plane.

Around 30,000 people have been evacuated to safety since the Taliban marched into Kabul.

Taliban warns against extension

President Joe Biden said Sunday he hoped not to extend the August 31 deadline for ending US military presence and airlifts out of Afghanistan, but he added that talks were underway to explore that possibility.

The European Union and Britain have called for the deadline to be extended, with the UK saying it would raise the issue at an online G7 meeting on Tuesday.

However, on Monday the Taliban warned that any delay would lead to “consequences”.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News that the US staying beyond the agreed deadline would be “extending occupation”.

Evacuees land in Belgium

Two flights carrying 226 people — mainly Afghan employees of international missions and their families — arrived at a Belgian airbase outside Brussels on Monday.

Families, many with small children and carrying only hand luggage, were led to buses to be taken to a military base under police escort for health checks and immigration processing.

Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said Operation Red Kite has already brought 400 people from Kabul’s airport.

French ministers in UAE

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly are due in the UAE on Monday to visit a base near Abu Dhabi where the French air force has been conducting round the clock operations in support of the evacuations.

Le Drian and Parly are due to meet Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, de facto leader of the UAE, to “thank the Emirati authorities for their support”, Le Drian’s delegation said.

France so far has evacuated around 100 French citizens and more than 1,300 Afghans via Abu Dhabi.

European evacuations

Britain has evacuated 5,725 people from Kabul in 10 days, including more than 3,100 Afghans, according to the defence ministry.

Around 300 Afghans have landed in Spain, while a military base in the northeast is serving as a reception centre for Afghans arriving from Kabul who worked for the EU.

Germany has helped nearly 3,000 people to flee Afghanistan, with at least 38 nationalities represented amongst the evacuees, the armed forces said on Twitter.

Denmark said that more than 650 people have been airlifted, with a plane carrying 50 people with links to the Nordic country departing on Sunday.

Sweden on Monday announced that more than 170 people had left Afghanistan, including 68 people who had worked closely with the Swedish armed forces who have been granted residency permits.

Switzerland has evacuated around 100 people with Swiss connections, including local Afghan staff and their family members, the foreign ministry said.

The first Hungarian aircraft participating in the rescue operation landed in Budapest on Sunday evening with 173 people on board, bringing the country’s total of evacuated people to almost 200.

Bulgaria has evacuated 20 people, Romania more than 45 and Austria eight.

AFP
AFP is a leading global news agency for comprehensive, verified coverage of events shaping the world.

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