Afghanistan: UK aiming to evacuate British nationals by 31 August 2021
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European foreign ministers will hold a crisis meeting today to discuss the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. The European Union’s Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said Europe must create humanitarian corridors to receive refugees fleeing the nation, but also the continent must avoid uncontrolled flows of illegal immigrants.
Taliban fighters have been attempting to gain control of Afghanistan for decades.
However, emboldened by the withdrawal of the USA and other international forces in June the Taliban accelerated its advance.
Fighters took the nation’s capital, Kabul, in just 10 days.
The group already controlled large parts of the country, but their lightning advance prompted tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
The rapid advance prompted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country with many of his countrymen and women choosing to follow his suit.
Evacuation flights from Afghanistan have now resumed after the Taliban’s military takeover provoked widespread panic.
A Western security official on Tuesday revealed Kabul airport’s tarmac and runway were now clear of crowds.
The official added military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan have started taking off.
The source said: “Many people who were here yesterday have gone home.”
US forces took charge of the airport on Sunday and flights were suspended for much of Monday when at least five people were killed.
It is unclear if these individuals were shot or crushed in a stampede.
Shocking images of a cramped US military flight out of Kabul shows 640 Afghans being carried out of the country – reportedly more than five times its suggested payload.
The flight, which has since touched down safely in Qatar, is believed to be the highest number of people ever flown in a C-17 Globemaster for nearly 30 years.
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French President Emmanuel Macron revealed France and Germany intend to push for a European plan to tackle migration flows from Afghanistan as people flee the Taliban.
He said: “We must anticipate and protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows that would endanger those who use them and feed trafficking of all kinds.”
Mr Macron added: “Europe alone cannot bear the consequences of the current situation.”
The migration programme will likely focus on “the fight against irregular flows, solidarity in the effort, the harmonisation of protection criteria and the establishment of cooperation with transit and host countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or Iran” according to the French leader.
Mr Macron revealed he intends to push for a European initiative with Germany and other countries on the continent.
The French President discussed the topic with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday before his speech aired later in the day.
Mr Macron insisted France “will continue to do its duty to protect those who are most at risk”.
But he said the nation would also work to tackle illegal migration at the same time as participating in “an international effort, organised and just”.
European Parliament President David Sassoli echoed these concerns about the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan.
Mr Sassoli tweeted: “The country needs a lasting and inclusive political solution that protects the rights of women and allows Afghans to live in safety and with dignity.
“Asylum must be granted to those in danger of persecution.”
Mr Gentiloni told Italian daily il Messaggero: “I think that Europe will inevitably have to equip itself for humanitarian corridors and organised reception, also to avoid uncontrolled flows of illegal immigrants. Or, at least, the countries that are willing to do so.”
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said his country is “deeply concerned” adding “together with other NATO Allies we will do our best to protect the most vulnerable people.”
Over the weekend, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Greece asked for the situation in Afghanistan and its possible impact on migration flows to be discussed at a meeting of home affairs ministers last Wednesday.
Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told local television on Monday: “It is clear that our country will not be a gateway for a new wave of refugees.”
Mr Mitarachi said he expected “only a very small number” of people to arrive in his country, but said he did not want the nation to face a repeat of the 2015 crisis when more than a million refugees fled the war heading to Europe.
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