Friday, September 24

What will happen when the US leaves Kabul airport?

The United States and NATO allied countries have been forced to accelerate the process of evacuating their citizens and collaborators in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power, after the attempt to extend beyond August 31 the deadline to complete your rescue.

Amnesty International Campaign Manager on Afghanistan: “The August 31 deadline is very worrying if people are left in danger”

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When there are only a few days, in some cases hours, until the operations of the allied countries leave the Kabul airport, mired in chaos, questions arise about what will happen to those Afghans desperate to flee from the Taliban who do not get it.

This is what we know for now:

What day will the United States definitely leave Afghanistan?

The Pentagon has confirmed that “several hundred” US soldiers have already left Afghanistan after completing their mission at the Kabul airport. According to ReutersUS officials assure that the troop withdrawal should begin now so that it can be completed on August 31, the date set as the deadline.

The Joe Biden government accelerates the exit as much as possible, since the withdrawal of troops and materials will take days and tensions with the Taliban are increasing.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that for the time being, personnel from the headquarters, maintenance and other support functions who were “scheduled to leave and whose mission at the airport has been completed” have left the airport.

Kirby defended the decision as a “prudent and efficient” management of the forces and clarified that “it will not have any impact on the mission in question.”

What will the rest of the countries do?

At the G7 meeting on Tuesday, European allies failed to convince Biden to extend the evacuation schedule. Without the presence of the more than 6,000 US soldiers who now control the airport, the allies have no capacity to sustain evacuation missions and these are doomed to be reduced to a minimum until they disappear. The Taliban surround the airport, violently preventing Afghans from accessing the road by road and threatening the states with “consequences” if the withdrawal is not completed on the 31st.

In fact, the US is now pressuring governments to terminate their operations before the deadline expires. As explained this Wednesday by the Belgian Defense Minister, Ludivine Dedonder, Washington has asked the allies to finish “as soon as possible” and urges them to make this Friday, August 27, the day on which they are terminated. evacuations.

For the moment, France and the United Kingdom have confirmed that they are accelerating their departure and that they hope to finish before Friday, while Poland has concluded its evacuations.

Will there be other evacuation flights and safe corridors?

After the failure in the attempt to extend the evacuation deadline, the main objective of the European leaders is that the Taliban accept that there are safe corridors so that those who want to leave Afghanistan beyond August 31 can do so.

It is one of the main demands that the G7 as a group will transfer to the Taliban, to keep safe passages open in the country. Within the Taliban regime, “some will say they do not accept (these conditions) and others, I hope, will see that it makes sense,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the group’s acting chairman, said after Tuesday’s meeting. Johnson assured that the rich countries represented at the meeting have sufficient “economic, diplomatic and political” mechanisms to impose their conditions.

The Biden government has also called on the Taliban to allow Afghans to leave the country. Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, assured that “they will demand” the Taliban to do so, “that people who want to leave after the US military has left have the opportunity to do so.”

The Taliban, for their part, have limited themselves to promising that they will allow commercial flights to operate in the country when the deadline for international evacuations is met, without detailing how the operations will be carried out. They assure that they will let anyone with “legal documents” travel.

However, fundamentalists have warned that they will not let Afghans go, and currently limit access to the airport only to foreigners, blocking the way to thousands of vulnerable Afghans desperate to leave the country.

How many people have been evacuated?

At the moment, more than 82,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the US and allied countries, according to figures provided by the White House.

Evacuations have accelerated since it was known that there would be no extension. Specifically, between the early hours of Tuesday and this Wednesday, the United States has organized 42 flights that have taken out about 11,200 people, while the countries of the international coalition have chartered another 48 to carry out 7,800 evacuations, according to the US administration data

At the moment more than 1,250 people have arrived in Spain, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior.

The Defense Ministry published some images this Wednesday on Twitter to show that the Spanish planes in charge of repatriation of Afghans are making “the most” of their capabilities to evacuate the largest number of Afghan collaborators “in the shortest possible time.”

How many will stay on the road?

It is difficult to estimate the number of Afghans who will not be able to be evacuated. As reported by The New York TimesUS officials are reluctant to offer an estimate of how many people would need to be rescued and how many might be left behind.

According to the newspaper, the administration fears that thousands of Americans remain in Afghanistan, not just Kabul, and with no way to get to the airport. However, they acknowledge that they do not have an exact number: the databases are outdated and do not contain many Americans who have dual citizenship.

Refugee experts cited by the newspaper estimate that at least 300,000 Afghans are in imminent danger for having collaborated with Americans in the past.

Several governments, including Spain, have recognized that it will not be possible to remove everyone and countries such as the United Kingdom are carrying out “unceremonious” screening at the airport, prioritizing the uploading of their citizens on their planes.

What will happen to the people who are not evacuated?

Both the UN and the NGOs working on the ground warn of the dramatic situation experienced by those who collaborated with the allied governments and who now cannot leave Kabul.

Despite the promises of the Taliban, who assured that there would be a “general amnesty” for all those whom they consider traitors, the information coming from Afghanistan shows otherwise.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Tuesday that her office has received “credible” reports about atrocities and crimes that the Taliban are carrying out in Afghanistan after they came to power. Among the complaints received, there are summary executions of civilians, violent repressions of peaceful protests, expressions of dissent, and there is a warning about the recruitment of children for combat.

In an interview with, Amnesty International’s campaign manager on Afghanistan is critical of the deadline for evacuations and calls for a safe exit for human rights defenders.

“The situation will be very worrying if they abandon many people who will continue to be in danger and who will continue to need to be evacuated. We call for a humanitarian corridor and humanitarian support for people in need of care, for example, internally displaced people in Afghanistan due to the conflict. And We call on humanitarian organizations, especially UN organizations, to accelerate their resources and provide support to these vulnerable groups ”, he declared.

And the women?

The situation of women in Afghanistan is critical. Although the Taliban initially assured that they would allow women to “work and study,” the condition set by the main Taliban spokesperson, Zabihulla Mujahid, was clear: “There will be no discrimination against women, but always within the limits of margins we have. Our women are Muslim and they are also happy to live under the sharia. ”

This ultra-orthodox vision of Islamic law was the one that between 1996 and 2001 prevented women from studying or working, leaving the house if they were not accompanied by a man from their family and forcing them to cover themselves completely with a burqa.

This same Wednesday, Zabihullah Mujahid asked working women to stay home “for their safety.” The excuse used by the Taliban is that their fighters “have not been trained to respect them.”

“We are concerned that our security forces, which are new and have not yet been very well trained, may mistreat women,” Mujahid said in remarks. collected by The New York Times: “We do not want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday that women’s rights were a “fundamental red line” in governments’ dealings with the Taliban.

Our security forces are not trained in how to deal with women. We ask that you stay home for your safety

Zabihullah Mujahid
– Spokesperson for the Taliban

Will humanitarian aid be able to arrive?

Another major concern is that humanitarian aid can continue to arrive in the country. International organizations see how their flights are blocked at stopovers such as Dubai, without the possibility of reaching Kabul due to the blocking situation at the airport.

The Taliban-controlled country has only one week’s medical supplies, according to the World Health Organization. In addition, the World Food Program warns that famine threatens the most vulnerable population, and estimates that in a matter of days the country could run out of supplies.

“It will be hell on Earth if Afghanistan’s economy collapses and deteriorates further,” David Beasley pointed out to Reuters on Tuesday, executive director of the WFP. Specifically, the director of the WFP has pointed out that food for Afghanistan will begin to run out in September, and up to four million lives could be at extreme risk of not receiving food aid before winter.

On Sunday, WHO and UNICEF jointly requested that “a reliable and dynamic humanitarian airlift be established immediately so that supplies can be delivered” to Afghanistan. At the moment, this has not occurred.