- August 25, 2021
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Afghanistan Caos: Thousands waiting to be evacuated at Kabul airport as Biden’s August withdrawal deadline looms.
Army Major General William Taylor, with the U.S. military’s Joint Staff, told a news briefing more than 10,000 people were at Kabul airport waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon claimed it evacuated some 19,000 people in the past 24 hours. More than 70,000 people, foreigners and Afghans, have been evacuated since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept into Kabul.
Meanwhile, ten million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF Afghanistan warns as the UN’s World Food Programme seeks $200m in food aid.
David Beasley, executive director of WFP said 14 million people – one-third of the Afghan population – face food insecurity “because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by COVID”.
The World Bank has suspended aid to Afghanistan, freezing hundreds of millions in funding. It has provided $5.3bn since 2002 and has 27 projects there. Last week, the IMF blocked the delivery of payments.
Turkey begins evacuating troops from Afghanistan
Turkey has started evacuating its troops from Afghanistan, the National Defense Ministry said.
“Turkish Armed Forces is returning to our homeland with the pride of successfully fulfilling the task entrusted to them,” a ministry statement said.
Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces have operated in Afghanistan under the UN, NATO, and bilateral agreements to contribute to the peace, welfare, and stability of the Afghan people, the statement said.
Pakistan PM Khan and Russian President Putin speak on Afghanistan conflict
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have held a telephone conversation on the way forward in Afghanistan today, the Pakistani premier’s office said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister [Imran Khan] stressed that a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan was vitally important for Pakistan and regional stability,” read the Pakistani statement.
“Besides ensuring safety, security and protection of rights of Afghans, an inclusive political settlement was the best way forward. The Prime Minister underscored that the international community must stay positively engaged in support of the people of Afghanistan, to help address humanitarian needs and ensure economic sustenance.”
Russian President Putin’s office did not immediately release a statement following the talks. The conversation comes after Putin held “an in-depth discussion” with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier.
US forces are communicating evacuee credentials to Taliban checkpoints: Pentagon
United States military commanders in Kabul are communicating regularly with Taliban authorities about the specific credentials people need to get into the airport to leave the city, Pentagon officials said.
“We’ve been very clear with Taliban leaders about what credentials we want them to accept. It’s American citizens, SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, referencing the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programme for Afghans who worked for the US.
“We have shared what the proper credentials are and by-and-large – not saying it’s been perfect – but by-and-large the people that we have made clear to the Taliban we want to have access through the checkpoints, have been able to get through,” Kirby said.
There have been reports of people with credentials being blocked from the airport and in the Pentagon has acknowledged sending helicopters on three occasions to extract people from the city.
Taliban agrees to let Afghans leave after Aug 31: German envoy
Germany said it has received assurance from a Taliban negotiator that Afghans who have the right documents will still be allowed to leave Afghanistan after the United States’ withdrawal deadline on August 31.
Germany’s envoy Markus Potzel said on Twitter he had met with Taliban deputy chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who “assured me that Afghans with legal documents will continue to have the opportunity to travel on commercial flights after August 31”.
Berlin has said that the current military operation carried out by NATO allies to evacuate Afghans in need of protection cannot continue once the Americans pull out.
US military developing ‘options’ for extending timeline in Kabul: Pentagon
The United States military is continuing to prepare for a full withdrawal of US forces from the airport in Kabul by August 31 but is developing “options” to remain longer if necessary, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
“One of our main jobs is to make sure that the president has options and as he made clear yesterday he wants to see this mission complete by the end of the month,” Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
“We are still working towards that goal, but we will be drafting-up potential – what we call in the military – branches and sequels,” Kirby said.
US has airlifted 19,000 people from Kabul in last 24 hours: general
The United States military has airlifted 19,000 people from the airport in Kabul in the past 24 hours as the pace of the US evacuation effort increased, Army General Hank Taylor told reporters at a Pentagon media briefing.
There were 11,200 people evacuated on 42 US military flights and 7,800 transported on charters and by other countries, Taylor said.Presently there are about 10,000 people at the airport inside the security perimeter awaiting departure, he said.
“This is a snapshot in time and, as we said yesterday, will continue to change as more people are able to come on to the airfield and as flights depart,” Taylor said.