Evacuations from Afghanistan speed up, Taliban vows peace: Live

Western nations step up evacuations from Afghanistan as Taliban promises women’s rights and media freedom in first press conference.

British citizens and dual nationals living in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 [Ben Shread/UK MOD/Handout via Reuters]
British citizens and dual nationals living in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 [Ben Shread/UK MOD/Handout via Reuters]

By Zaheena Rasheed and Tamila Varshalomidze 18 Aug 2021|Updated: 9 minutes ago

Planes carrying hundreds of evacuees from Kabul have arrived in the United Kingdom and Germany as Western nations stepped up evacuation efforts and the Taliban promised women’s rights, media freedom and amnesty for government officials in Afghanistan.

A British Royal Air Force plane carrying British nationals and embassy staff landed at an air base in Oxfordshire, UK, while a German government-chartered Lufthansa flight carrying 130 evacuees landed in Frankfurt in Germany.

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The United States said its military flights had evacuated 3,200 people from Kabul so far, including 1,100 on Tuesday alone.

In Kabul, the Taliban sought to strike a conciliatory tone at its first press conference since its lightning seizure of the Afghan capital, promising to respect the rights of women “within the framework of Islam” and expressing a desire for peaceful relations with other countries.

“We don’t want any internal or external enemies,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, the armed group’s main spokesman.

The Taliban announcements, short on details but suggesting a softer line than during the group’s rule 20 years ago, came as one of the group’s co-founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, returned to Afghanistan for the first time in more than 10 years.

Here are the latest updates:

Thousands of Afghans enter Pakistan via Chaman crossing

Thousands of Afghans have entered Pakistan through the Spin Boldak/Chaman border crossing in Afghanistan’s southeast after the Afghan Taliban’s takeover of the country earlier this week, including patients seeking medical attention and freed Afghan Taliban prisoners.

On Tuesday, the border remained open for all Afghans carrying valid Afghan identity documents or proof of being a registered Afghan refugee resident in Pakistan, Afghan travellers and authorities told Al Jazeera.

Read more here.

UK getting 1,000 out a day from Afghanistan: Patel

The United Kingdom has managed to evacuate about 1,000 people a day from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the country, Home Secretary Priti Patel says.

“We have been getting out approximately 1,000 people, so far, a day,” she told BBC TV.

“We’re still bringing out British nationals … and those Afghan nationals who are part of our locally employed scheme.”

Dutch efforts to evacuate Afghan staff fails

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag says Dutch evacuation efforts in Afghanistan were unsuccessful on Tuesday night as chaos outside Kabul airport made it impossible to get eligible people on a plane.

The Netherlands aims to get up to 1,000 local embassy workers, translators and their families out of the country.

US armed forces securing the airport did not allow any Afghans to enter the gates even if they had the right credentials, and the plane was only on the ground in Kabul for about half an hour, Kaag said.

“It’s awful. Many were there at the gates of the airport with their families,” Kaag told Dutch news agency ANP.

Taliban leaders will not stay in ‘shadow of secrecy’: group official

The leaders of Afghanistan’s Taliban will show themselves to the world, an official of the group says, unlike during the past 20 years, when its leaders have lived largely in secret.

“Slowly, gradually, the world will see all our leaders, there will be no shadow of secrecy,” the senior Taliban official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters news agency.

The official said Taliban members had been ordered not to celebrate their recent sweep of the country, which brought them to the capital, Kabul, and added that civilians should hand over weapons and ammunition.

Hello and welcome to the live updates. This is Tamila Varshalomidze, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

More than 2,200 people evacuated from Afghanistan

A Western security official has told Reuters news agency that more than 2,200 diplomats and other civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan so far.

“We are continuing at a very fast momentum, logistics show no glitches as of now and we have been able to remove a little over 2,200 diplomatic staff, foreign security staff and Afghans who worked for embassies,” the official said.

It was unclear when civilian flights would resume, he said.

The official did not give a breakdown of how many Afghans were among the more than 2,200 people to leave nor was it clear if that tally included the more than 600 Afghan men, women and children who flew out on Sunday, crammed into a US military C-17 cargo aircraft.

more https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/18/evacuations-from-kabul-speed-up-as-taliban-promises-peace-live

Categories: Afghanistan, Asia, UK, USA

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