FILE: Afghanis in desperate move to leave the country after Taliban takeover
More than 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan to Qatar, an official from the Gulf state said Saturday, as thousands scrambled to leave Kabul via chaotic evacuation operations.
Qatar and the nearby United Arab Emirates have been instrumental staging posts for evacuation flights for Western countries’ citizens as well as Afghan interpreters, journalists and others.
“Since the start of international operations, over 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan to Qatar,” a Qatari official who declined to be identified told AFP.
“At the request of NGOs, educational institutions and international media organisations, we evacuated hundreds of Afghan employees and their families, as well as female students across the country,” the official said.
That came “in addition to facilitating the evacuation of citizens from the United States of America, Germany and the United Kingdom, among others. Our evacuation effort is ongoing.”
American officials have confirmed that evacuation operations had stalled for about seven hours Friday because the receiving base in Qatar was overcrowded.
Qatar has stressed that “all evacuated people are provided proper accommodation and all other required resources”.
Many of the 7,000 people currently in Qatar were transiting to third countries, the Qatari official said.
The UAE has also become an evacuation hub, with French authorities using the capital Abu Dhabi and Britain using Dubai as transit points for their nationals and approved refugees.
A total of over 8,500 people have transited the UAE so far, according to the government.
Six days after the Taliban swept to power, the flow of people trying to flee Afghanistan has continued to overwhelm the international community.
Roads leading to Kabul airport have been choked with traffic, while families hoping for a miracle escape have crowded between the barbed-wire surrounds of an unofficial no man’s land separating the Taliban from US and allied troops.
US President Joe Biden has called it “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history”.