Thousands of people have gathered for two days in the vicinity of the Kabul airport. It was the only exit route that was not controlled by the Taliban until this Tuesday they mounted controls at all its entrances. While the inner workings of the terminal and air traffic are in the hands of the US military, it is now the Taliban who decide who can enter and who cannot.
The Taliban at the entrance are heavily armed, and according to witnesses they attacked on Wednesday Afghan civilians trying to access the airport with several violent episodes.
One of the workers at the Spanish embassy, a driver, was slightly injured, according to one of his colleagues, who was also trying to access the airport. According to this testimony, the driver had to return home together with other collaborators who had been summoned for the Spanish evacuation, but they were not allowed to enter the airport.
“The Taliban fired into the air and foreigners also fired to separate people. There were a lot of people,” explains the embassy worker.
The person coordinating the repatriation had summoned four of the 12 Afghans working for the Foreign Ministry, along with their families. They had to be at half past nine this Wednesday in one of the entrances to the airport, but upon arrival they found the Taliban checkpoint. There they were told that, to gain access, a foreign representative had to go to where they were to identify them, according to the worker’s account.
“Exteriors summoned us to be at 9.30 a.m. at one of the airport entrances, and it is 14.58 and we are still behind the check-point Taliban, “said the worker from the airport.
While he was there, he saw how British and American officials came to these checkpoints on several occasions, with their lists of people to evacuate, to allow the passage little by little. On the other hand, he did not find Spanish diplomatic personnel doing the same work. So, without identification with the new Taliban regime, none of these four families could reach the plane that had to repatriate them.
This Thursday morning the first evacuation plane of the Ministry of Defense arrived at the Torrejón de Ardoz base. Afghan collaborators, Spanish civilians and police officers who were in charge of embassy security have arrived on the aircraft. In total, 48 Afghans and five Spaniards.
The information about the embassy staff comes in a dropper from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they do not answer the question of why they have not facilitated access to the airport for the four families who were summoned to take that flight, and who have passed hours behind Taliban lines without receiving help. He says that in Kabul they have not been given any explanation either.
According to local sources, both Ambassador Gabriel Ferran and the Spanish Consul, Paula Sánchez, remain at this Kabul airport to coordinate the repatriation. There are two other Spanish planes in Dubai waiting to evacuate more people. It is about another A400 that left at five in the afternoon on Tuesday from Zaragoza, and a medicalized plane that took off on Wednesday from Torrejón.
But if access to the airport is not facilitated, the evacuation will be very complicated for the 12 embassy workers and several other interpreters who worked with the Army and who have arrived from other parts of the country such as Herat. These workers say they have informed Ministry officials about the difficulties in getting to the plane by themselves, but so far without a solution.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has acknowledged in an interview with ABC News that chaos during the evacuation of Afghanistan is inevitable, and that the Taliban are not cooperating to facilitate the departure of Afghan citizens. The United States is the country that plans to evacuate the most people from Afghanistan: some 15,000 Americans and 65,000 locals. In theory, it should be before August 31, but Biden now says that the troops will stay until the operation is completed.