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Risky evacuations continue in Kabul

Difficult evacuation operations continue at Kabul airport, where thousands of people are still trying on Monday to flee Afghanistan at the risk of their lives in the hands of the Taliban.

Several civilians have perished in scenes of panic and despair at the airport, the country’s only exit door, since the Taliban returned to power on August 15.

Requested private planes

The German military announced the death of an Afghan guard early Monday in a clash with unidentified assailants and German and US soldiers took part in “subsequent exchanges of fire.” The Taliban have warned that they will not agree to an extension of evacuations after August 31, the deadline set by Washington for the final withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. US President Joe Biden, under pressure from his allies, opened the door to keeping soldiers there beyond that date.

“If the United States or the United Kingdom ask for more time to continue the evacuations, the answer is no. Or there will be consequences, ”said spokesman Suhail Shaheen. To speed up the evacuations, the United States has requisitioned planes from private companies that will not take off from Kabul but will help transport to third countries, such as Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.

“Mathematically impossible”

Thousands of people have already been exfiltrated aboard aircraft dispatched by Western countries to evacuate their nationals, diplomatic staff and Afghan citizens who worked with them and their families. According to the White House, since August 14, around 25,100 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan aboard military planes from the United States and allied countries. Joe Biden said last week that the United States plans to evacuate all Americans (between 10,000 and 15,000 people) and hopes to be able to do the same for Afghan allies and their families (between 50,000 and 65,000 people).

“The Americans want to get 60,000 people out by the end of the month. It is mathematically impossible, ”nevertheless judged the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell on Saturday. More than 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan to Qatar, according to the Gulf state. The Emirates say they have facilitated the exit of 8,500 people, with their own planes or via their airports. According to the US ambassador to Kuwait on Sunday, the country allowed the evacuation of 850 US citizens and diplomatic personnel in the United States. Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, has announced a commercial flight from its Isa Air Base to Dulles, Washington International Airport.

Air rotations in Europe

The UK has evacuated more than 5,700 people since August 13, including 3,100 Afghans. Germany exfiltrated nearly 3,000 people of 38 nationalities on 21 flights. Italy evacuated around 1,600 Afghan civilians in less than a week, against a target of 2,500. France, where the seventh flight of an airlift started from Kabul a week ago landed overnight from Sunday to Monday, has evacuated a hundred French people, nearly 40 nationals of partner countries and more than a thousand Afghans.

Denmark has evacuated 650 people including at least 45 Afghans and their families. In Poland, more than 350 people have already landed. In Belgium, the first two planes arrived Monday with 226 people in total, mostly Afghans and their families, from Islamabad where Belgian forces have already evacuated some 400 people. Spain welcomed 314 Afghans after the arrival in the night from Sunday to Monday of two military planes. Sweden has evacuated more than 170 people including 68 who worked for its army who had residence permits.

In Hungary, the first plane participating in the airlift arrived Sunday evening with 173 people including 96 Afghans as well as Hungarians and Americans, evacuated via Uzbekistan. Bulgaria has evacuated twenty of its nationals to Allied planes. Romania has repatriated more than 45 Romanians including 15 on a Romanian military plane, the others thanks to other countries.

In Austria, at least eight Austrians have been evacuated, dozens more and Afghans with Austrian residence permits are waiting to leave. Switzerland, from where a 300-seat plane flew to Tashkent on Monday to transport evacuees from Kabul to Uzbekistan, has already welcomed around 100 people, including at least 11 Swiss and Afghans with their families.


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