Airport congested, security threats, and first deaths … A week after the Taliban seizure of power in Afghanistan, thousands of people are still trying, Sunday August 22, to flee their country at the risk of their lives while operations evacuations from foreign countries continue under extreme conditions.
Scenes of panic and despair, which have followed one another for a week at Kabul airport, have resulted in the deaths of civilians. Seven Afghans died in the crush, the British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday, without giving further details.
The day before, footage shot by Sky News showed the bodies of at least three people, presumably crushed by the crowd pushing against the airport gates, with American soldiers on one side and Islamist fighters from the other.
Another journalist, part of a group of press workers and academics who were able to access the airport on Sunday, described to Agence France-Presse (AFP) scenes of desperation, people being hooking up to their bus as they entered it. “They showed us their passports and shouted: “Take us with you! Please take us with you!” The Taliban fighter in the truck in front of us had to shoot in the air to disperse them. “
Hoping for a miracle, families remain massed between the rows of barbed wire that surround the perimeter separating the Taliban from the American troops. The roads leading to the airport continue to be extremely congested.
“Mathematically impossible” to evacuate everyone
Since August 14, some 17,000 people have been evacuated by the United States, including 2,500 Americans. In an interview with ABC, US President Joe Biden said the United States plans to evacuate all Americans (between 10,000 and 15,000 people according to some estimates), and hopes to be able to do the same for the 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’s mathematically impossible ”, nevertheless judged the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell. The latter claimed to have informed the United States that the security measures at the airport are too strict and that they prevent Afghans who worked for the Europeans from entering.
” No time to waste “
Thousands of people have already been exfiltrated on board devices urgently dispatched by Western countries. The goal: to evacuate their nationals, diplomatic staff and Afghan citizens who have worked with them and fear reprisals from the Taliban, as well as their relatives.
Most “No nation will be able to evacuate everyone”British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in the Mail on Sunday as time is running out before August 31, the date set by the US administration for the final withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan and the end of operations evacuation. “If the American calendar is maintained, we have no time to waste in evacuating the majority of people who are waiting”, did he declare.
The Taliban accuse the United States
The United States is responsible for the chaos at the airport and it must end ” as soon as possible “, said a senior Taliban official on Sunday.
“America, with all its power and equipment (…), has failed to bring order to the airport. There is peace and calm throughout the country, but there is only chaos at Kabul airport (…) It must end as soon as possible ”said Amir Khan Mutaqi.
“Potential security threats”
6,000 heavily armed US servicemen control the airport, but the Taliban patrol the surrounding streets, preventing many Afghans from reaching the airport.
The United States Embassy in Afghanistan on Saturday urged Americans to avoid travel to the airport because of “Potential security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport”. Joe Biden spoke with senior officials on Saturday morning, according to a White House official “The security situation in Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations, including ISIS”, the Islamic State group.