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Evacuations from Kabul under way as Taliban promises safe passage
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 08 - 2021

Evacuation is under way from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan's capital city Kabul on Wednesday after the Taliban took over the country and promised safe passage to all who want to leave.
According to Dawn, over 2,200 diplomats and other civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan on military flights. Evacuation flights have re-commenced from Kabul Airport, after the US military secured the airfield.
The US, UK, France, Australia, India, and other countries have launched rescue missions for their citizens and Afghan nationals seeking to flee the country.
Earlier on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a press conference in Kabul said it would seek no "revenge" against those who had opposed them. The US military has evacuated more than 3,200 people from Afghanistan so far, including 1,100 on Tuesday alone.
Meanwhile, French foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement to media said 25 French nationals and 184 Afghans were evacuated overnight and have just landed in Abu Dhabi. The British military is trying to take British nationals to the airport at Kabul.
Dutch evacuation efforts were unsuccessful on Tuesday night as chaos outside Kabul airport made it impossible to get eligible people on a plane, Dutch foreign minister, Sigrid Kaag said. The Netherlands aims to get up to 1,000 local embassy workers, translators and their families out of the country.
Australia's first evacuation mission flew just 26 people out of Afghanistan. The aircraft was a C130, which could carry at least 128 people. Canada plans to resume military flights to Afghanistan to evacuate civilians as the United States regains control of the Kabul airport, the Canadian Armed Forces has told the media.
US forces had to pause all evacuations after thousands of people desperate to flee Afghanistan thronged Kabul's airport on Monday. The airport runway is now clear of crowds and military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan started taking off on Tuesday.
The US military evacuated about 1,100 Americans, permanent residents of the United States, and their families from Afghanistan on Tuesday, a White House official said. "Now that we have established the flow, we expect those numbers to escalate," the official said in a statement.
The US military evacuated on Tuesday approximately 1,100 US citizens, US permanent residents and their families on 13 flights from Afghanistan, a White House official said Tuesday evening.
"We have evacuated more than 3,200 people so far, including our personnel. In addition to these more than 3,200 total evacuated, we have relocated nearly 2,000 Afghan special immigrants to the United States," the official noted.
Earlier Tuesday, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters during a briefing that the Department of State "is working around the clock to facilitate the swift, safe evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa holders and other vulnerable Afghans."
He affirmed "we remain committed to accelerating flights for SIVs (Special Immigrant Visas) and other vulnerable Afghans as quickly as possible."
"The safety and security of US government employees and US citizens overseas is our top priority as well," he remarked
Meanwhile, The British government announced Tuesday its intention to receive 20,000 Afghan refugees in the long run in the wake of Taliban's control of power in the country.
This year, 5,000 Afghan employees who worked with the British forces, in addition to women and girls subjected to threats, will be resettled in Britain, BBC reported, citing the Home Secretary.
Up to 20,000 Afghan people will be relocated in the UK in the coming years, it added, noting that this decision will be regularly revised based on the developments there.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called US President Joe Biden and discussed the ongoing developments in Afghanistan, the British Cabinet said late Tuesday.
The two sides agreed on the importance of cooperation of the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the Cabinet added in a press statement.
Johnson said he looks forward to discussing these issues through the G-7 summit he will chair soon, it made clear. — Agencies

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