French and Afghan nationals line up to board a French military transport plane at the Kabul airport on August 17, 2021, for evacuation from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s stunning military takeover of the country. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
STR | AFP | Getty Images
Flights resumed from Kabul’s international airport Tuesday after a frenzied and panic-filled Monday that saw thousands of Afghans swarm the tarmac in attempts to get out of Afghanistan.
Images from Hamid Karzai International and shared on social media and news outlets stunned the world, as evacuation flights took off with locals still clinging onto aircraft wheels.
The crowds, who were trying to flee the country a day after Kabul fell to the Taliban, have thinned out, reports say, though the ability to leave the country remains very limited for most Afghans, who face a very uncertain future.
“The situation is stabilizing but obviously we are monitoring it very carefully,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News on Tuesday.
“I do think that the airport is more stable today than it was yesterday, and we need to make sure that we consolidate that in the days ahead.”
Raab said there were 600 extra personnel there among a surge of U.K. and U.S. troops sent in to ensure the evacuation of diplomatic staff. He also said that Afghans who had helped U.K. forces were being evacuated as well.
The U.K. evacuated 150 British nationals on Sunday as well as “289 of those Afghan nationals who have served the U.K. so loyally in Afghanistan,” over the last week, he said, adding that he expected over the next 24 hours “to have 350 more British nationals and Afghan nationals who have worked for us coming out.”
The comments came as many Afghans say they have been left behind and betrayed by the international community — and their own leaders.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as the country’s military, trained and equipped for two decades by the U.S., surrendered to Taliban militants.
Germany, which fielded the second-largest military presence in Afghanistan after the U.S., says it aims to evacuate thousands of German-Afghan dual nationals and lawyers, activists and individuals who worked with NATO forces.
However, the first German evacuation plane only managed to take off with seven people, due to the chaos on the ground, its government said Tuesday.
TOPSHOT – French and Afghan nationals wait to board a French military transport plane at the airport in Kabul on August 17, 2021, for evacuation from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s stunning military takeover of the country. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
STR | AFP | Getty Images
The transport plane performed a “breakneck landing” on Monday night, but had to take off with so few people on board because it could not spend much longer on the runway and the Germans trying to evacuate couldn’t reach the airport without protection from military personnel.
“We have a very chaotic, dangerous and complex situation at the airport,” Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told a local broadcaster, according to Reuters.
“We had very little time, so we only took on board people who were on site.”