Massive airlift evacuates 112,000 people from Kabul

Photo: AFP

Paris, France | Here are the latest developments in the evacuation of Western citizens and local allies after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, as order on Saturday replaced chaos at Kabul airport.

About 112,000 people have been flown out of the country since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept to power, according to the US government.

More than 5,000 people however remained inside Kabul airport awaiting evacuation.

- US cooperating with Taliban - 

With the Taliban primed to take over the airport, US forces have been forced into closer security cooperation with the group as they race to meet the Tuesday withdrawal deadline without any repeat of Thursday's  Islamic State attack that killed scores of Afghans and 13 US service members.

The US evacuation from Kabul is ongoing, says Major General Hank Taylor on Saturday. 

He lists around 1,400 people at the airport who have been "screened and manifested for flights today".

A State Department official says there are still 350 Americans in Afghanistan who have told US officials they want to leave. The official says at least 5,400 Americans "and likely more" have been evacuated so far.

- France, Qatar plan joint 'airlift ops' -

President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday tells reporters at a summit in Baghdad of regional leaders that Paris is in talks with the Taliban through Qatar to "protect and repatriate" Afghans at risk.

Evacuations are planned jointly with Qatar and may involve "airlift operations", Macron says.

He adds that France, which ended its evacuations from Afghanistan on Friday, has evacuated 2,834 people from there since August 17.

- Last UK flight departs -

Britain's last plane carrying only civilian evacuees has taken off from Kabul, the defence ministry says on Saturday, leaving hundreds of Afghans eligible for resettlement behind. 

The ministry says further planes could carry some civilians along with military and diplomats. 

UK Ambassador to Afghanistan Laurie Bristow says nearly 15,000 people have been evacuated since August 13.

- Italy says 'second more difficult phase' looming -

Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio on Saturday says Italy has evacuated 4,900 Afghan citizens in recent days, speaking at Rome's Fiumicino airport as the last Italian aircraft from Kabul lands with 58 more Afghan citizens on board.

But Di Maio says Rome is still hoping to fly more Afghans out with the help of the United Nations, NGOs and other countries after the August 31 deadline. 

He adds that "a second, more difficult phase" of the evacuation process would now commence. 

- Spain ends nine-day airlift -

Spain on Friday announces the end of its evacuations after a nine-day operation that saw 2,206 people flown out -- mostly  Afghans and their families who worked for Spain.

- Switzerland ends airlift -

The Swiss government says on Friday it has ended its evacuation operation out of Kabul after helping airlift 385 people to Switzerland.

The foreign ministry says 34 Swiss nationals and 51 people with permanent Swiss residence permits were among those Switzerland evacuated over the past two weeks, with assistance from Germany.

- Germany completes pull-out -

Germany on Thursday says it has pulled out all its soldiers from Afghanistan with its last evacuation flight from Kabul.

Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says Germany has flown out 5,347 people.

- Dutch halt evacuation on US orders -

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday says US forces have ordered his country to leave Kabul airport ahead of the August 31 deadline. 

"The Americans have told us to finish our operations. It's terrible news," Rutte told NOS television. 

The Netherlands had evacuated 1,500 people -- both Dutch nationals and eligible Afghans -- since Kabul fell, with a further 118  managing to reach the airport safely.

The number of Dutch people left behind in Afghanistan is "not very clear" yet, he says.

© Agence France-Presse

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