This Wednesday the first Spanish plane sent on a rescue mission for Spaniards who are in Afghanistan after the fall of the country into the hands of the Taliban arrives in Kabul. The objective is to evacuate them together with Afghan collaborators, something that complicates the operation at the Kabul airport, where the situation remains extremely tense. The first of the Spanish planes, an A400M of the Armed Forces, left on Tuesday night for Dubai (United Arab Emirates) from where it has flown to Afghanistan.
Interpreters who worked for Spain in Afghanistan await their evacuation in a desperate countdown
On the flight, a group of soldiers from the CIMIC battalion of the Land Army and the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA) of the Air Force travels, which will be in charge of the evacuation operation of the Spaniards and Afghans and their families who for years they have collaborated with Spain. According to the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, the mission of the personnel traveling on these flights is “to respond to the difficult evacuation conditions.”
The A400M have a capacity for about 140 occupants, but the occupancy will depend on the number of people registered in the lists that are in the security zone of the Kabul airport in the short period of time in which the planes are allowed to land, load and take off.
A second A400M is also in Dubai to participate in the same operation, a flight that is scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan this Friday. The Foreign Ministry has not specified the time at which the planes are scheduled to arrive at their final destination, located two and a half hours flight from Dubai.
Along with them, and as announced today by the President of the Government Pedro Sánchez, a third medicalized aircraft of the Armed Forces will also go to Kabul, which has departed from the Torrejón de Ardoz air base, to participate in the repatriation mission.
On pages like Radarbox Y FlightRadar24 It has been possible to follow in real time the flight of the first of the planes sent by Spain to Kabul, a tracking that has been active until its passage through Pakistan.
Tense waiting at the airport
For now, the staff of the Spanish embassy in Afghanistan, the police officers in charge of their security and the other Spaniards who remain in the Asian country are at the Kabul airport waiting to be repatriated.
The chaos unleashed at the airfield in recent hours in the presence of thousands of people trying to flee has made it difficult for the planes to leave.
This tense situation and the Taliban’s controls in the city have made it difficult for the Afghans and their families that Spain is going to evacuate to be able to travel to the Kabul airport.
Spain has offered the EU and NATO help to also transfer personnel from these two organizations to Spain from Kabul.
This deployment covers the first evacuation phase, which includes embassy personnel and the Spaniards who remain in the Asian country.
Also of all those Afghans and their families who for years have collaborated with Spain in the military mission and in cooperation projects with tasks such as translation.
Taliban controls make it difficult to rescue Afghans
Some countries such as France and Germany have already begun to receive evacuated personnel on their military planes. In the case of Germany, two planes – A400M of the army – have taken 7 and 125 people out of Afghanistan in two flights to the country. However, the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has alerted in a press conference together with the Minister of Defense, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, that only people with foreign nationality are being able to access the Kabul airport and who are currently not being able to evacuate Afghans who collaborated with his government, since the Taliban have installed controls at the accesses to the airport and only allow foreigners to enter.
Maas said that it will be necessary to “find a solution” to the issue of local collaborators, that the German case involves several hundred people, and that for that it will be necessary to speak with both the United States and the Taliban.
Meanwhile, in France, a second French military plane evacuated 216 people from Kabul on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, of which 25 are French, 184 Afghans, four Dutch, one Irish and two Kenyans, who have been initially taken to a based in Abu Dhabi. On Tuesday afternoon, 41 people – French and foreign – arrived in Paris from the first French military evacuation flight from Kabul since the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement today that these Afghans are members of “civil society in need of protection.”
Most of these French and Afghans were refugees in the French embassy in Kabul, which for security reasons has transferred its services to the airport in the Afghan capital.
Italy has also evacuated 85 people from Kabul, especially former Afghan collaborators and their families, who are scheduled to arrive in Rome this Wednesday. Two more planes are scheduled to leave Kuwait to pick up about 150 more people in Kabul and take them to Italy.