/ 26 August 2021

The countdown to leave Afghanistan intensifies

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. (Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Force via AP)
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. (Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Force via AP)

The situation at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan is “deteriorating by the hour”, according to officials. Thousands of locals and foreign nationals are still trying to flee the country in one of the largest airlifts in history before the US military and other troops leave by 31 August. Reports this morning say there are more than 10,000 people at the airport waiting to be evacuated, and there are many more who can’t get through.

HOW’S AUSTRALIA GOING WITH OUR EFFORTS?
At the start of last week, reports said there were 130 Aussie citizens in Kabul, and it’s believed that most of them are now out. PM Scott Morrison yesterday told the Parliament that 2,650 Australians and visa holders have been evacuated on 22 flights. That includes a group of 50 female athletes and their dependents who received humanitarian visas. And some are already in Oz – 3 planes have landed in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide, where evacuees will do their 14 days quarantine. But it’s not all smooth sailing… This morning, The Australian reports (paywall) that there are 1,000 people cleared to travel to Australia who have been unable to get to the airport.

AND OTHER NATIONS?
US President Joe Biden has reconfirmed his commitment to withdraw America’s 6,000 troops by 31 August – that’s Tuesday next week. “The sooner we can finish, the better,” he said yesterday. Troops from other nations are expected to leave Afghanistan as soon as America does because the dangers will rise significantly. Since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last week, the US has evacuated 82,000 people, and the UK has taken around 10,000 people via Kabul airport. In other parts of Afghanistan, reports say thousands are fleeing to neighbouring countries. According to the United Nations, the fighting in the lead up to the events of this month had already displaced an estimated 3.5 million Afghans.

Image source: AP

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