Tens of thousands wait in Afghanistan as evacuations continue

Tens of thousands of Afghans, fearful of a brutal Taliban rule or of being a target for working with Western forces, are waiting to be evacuated from the country before US troops leave.

US President Joe Biden said the airport in Kabul was secure, with nearly 6,000 US troops facilitating evacuations from the country.

Biden had pledged to evacuate Afghans who helped the United States including translators and others who assisted in the war effort.

European countries are also facilitating evacuations of Afghans who worked with NATO forces and EU embassies.

Videos have depicted chaos outside the airport in Kabul as those who pass the Taliban checkpoints make it to the area where evacuations are being carried out.

The country has been in chaos since the Taliban took over the capital city last weekend. The armed group took over the country at a stunning speed that surprised many officials.

Evacuees begin to arrive in EU countries

Germany’s federal defence forces said that from Monday they had evacuated 1,800 people with the help of partners including the United States.

Italy said its military evacuated nearly 1,000 Afghan citizens out of Kabul over the last five days, with two flights carrying 207 Afghans arriving in Rome on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

The Dutch defence ministry said the first 28 evacuees from Kabul arrived in Zoutkamp on Friday. Two flights carrying 123 people left Kabul on Friday as well.

The evacuations include interpreters, security guards, legal assistants, cooks and drivers as well as employees of Dutch development projects, human rights defenders and, in particular, women’s rights defenders.

Journalists and fixers working for Dutch media area also concerned, the defence ministry said.

French armed forces minister Florence Parly said that France had evacuated 570 people from Kabul since Monday.

Europe fears new migration crisis

As evacuations of Afghans who worked with EU countries continued, interior ministers discussed concerns that the chaos could lead to a new migration crisis.

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said in a statement the bloc “should not wait until people arrive at the external borders”.

“We should prevent people from heading towards the European Union through unsafe, irregular and uncontrolled routes run by smugglers,” Johansson added after the meeting of interior ministers.

In a televised speech earlier in the week, French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe needed to anticipate and protect against “significant irregular migratory flows.”

Many officials are worried about a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis, when a record 1.25 million first-time asylum applicants were registered in the European Union.

That crisis was fuelled in part by the Syrian civil war.

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