Afghanistan: Seven die in stampede outside Kabul airport as Taliban sparks panic — live updates
The US government is looking at ways to speed up evacuations from Kabul to other countries, amid an uncertain security situation in Afghanistan. Follow DW for the latest.
- Seven die in stampede outside Kabul airport
- US considers asking carriers to aid Afghan evacuations
- Trump slams Biden for Afghanistan ‘humiliation’
- Australia evacuates over 300 overnight from Kabul
This article was last updated at 08:15 UTC/GMT. Catch up on Saturday’s main events here.
Seven killed amid stampedes at Kabul airport
A statement from the UK Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that seven Afghan civilians have been crushed to death outside Kabul airport as panicked crowds attempt to board evacuation planes.
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the statement said.
Taliban fighters also sparked panic by firing into the air to drive off more people who were attempting to get into the airport.
“Our sincere thoughts are with the families of the seven Afghan civilians who have sadly died in crowds in Kabul,” the ministry statement said.
Afghan woman gives birth on US military jet
An Afghan mother gave birth while on board a US Air Force aircraft shortly before landing at the US military base of Ramstein in Germany, according to a tweet by the US Department of Defence.
Most aid organizations plan on staying in Afghanistan
The majority of the humanitarian organizations working in Afghanistan, including all agencies connected to the UN, are planning on staying, according to a report from the UN Geneva office published in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
There are around 300 foreign and 3,000 local workers connected with the UN aid agencies in the country. The report also estimates that the majority of the 150 non-governmental organizations there will also stay.
The newspaper quoted the international children’s rights agency UNICEF as saying: “We’ve been asked by the Taliban in many provinces to stay and continue our demonstrably successful work for children.”
Austria refuses to take in fleeing Afghans
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz reiterated his government’s refusal to take in Afghans who are fleeing the Taliban.
“I am clearly opposed to us now voluntarily taking in more people and that will not happen during my chancellorship,” Kurz said according to released excerpts from an interview with TV channel Puls 24.
Austria took in a large number of refugees during 2015 and 2016. Its Afghan population is second only to Germany, within Europe. But Kurz, who came to power in 2017 as the head of the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), has build his career on opposing immigration.
Germans call for evacuations of social campaigners
People in Germany’s capital Berlin are planning a protest in support of Afghans on Sunday.
A broad alliance of groups will demand that people who are threatened by the Taliban because of their social commitment should also be flown out of the country. This would be in addition to those who worked with the former Afghan government or US and NATO forces.
All Afghans in Germany should also be given refugee protection, the groups said.
According to the police, 1,000 participants have been registered for a rally at 1 p.m. (11:00 UTC) at the chancellery. The organizers say they expect several thousand people to turn up.
Several marches in support of Afghanistan have already taken place, including in Berlin and in the western city of Bonn. Protests were also called in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hanover and Kiel during the weekend.
Australia evacuates more than 300 overnight from Kabul
Australia ran four flights into Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday night, evacuating more than 300 people, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.
Those evacuated included Australians, Afghan visa holders, New Zealanders, as well as US and British citizens.
Australia said it was continuing flights, even as the United States and Germany told their citizens in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to Kabul airport, citing security concerns.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said that some passengers on the flights bringing evacuees from Kabul to Australia suffered injuries. “It is dangerous,” she said.
The Australian government has now evacuated more than 550 people from Kabul since August 18.
Trump assails Biden for Afghanistan ‘humiliation’
Former US president Donald Trump has criticized President Joe Biden’s handling of the retreat of US forces from Afghanistan, calling it “the greatest foreign policy humiliation” in the country’s history.
“Biden’s botched exit from Afghanistan is the most astonishing display of gross incompetence by a nation’s leader, perhaps at any time,” Trump said at a rally near Cullman, Alabama.
During his presidency, Trump negotiated the US withdrawal that triggered the fall of the country to the Taliban. But he has repeatedly blamed Biden for the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
At the rally, Trump blamed the situation on Biden not having followed a plan devised by his administration. “This is not a withdrawal. This was a total a surrender,” he said.
“We could have gotten out with honor,” Trump added. “We should have gotten out with honor. Instead we got out with the exact opposite of honor.”
US considers getting airlines to help with evacuations
The Biden administration is considering drafting US commercial airlines to help the ongoing evacuation effort from Afghanistan.
The government can activate this under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program. This adds to military aircraft capability during a crisis related to national defense.
The US Transportation Command said in a statement on Saturday that the Pentagon has not approved such a program but it said it had issued a warning order to US carriers on Friday night. The order was first reported by the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
If called upon under the program, the airlines’ planes and crews may be required to help transport US citizens, embassy personnel and foreign nationals to another country, following their initial evacuation out of Kabul by military aircraft.
A number of countries are providing temporary transit points for evacuees, including the Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The carriers could also be required to transport people from Virginia’s Dulles International Airport to US military bases.
Saturday’s key developments
Afghanistan’s former president, Hamid Karzai, met with Taliban’s acting governor for Kabul who “assured us that he would do everything possible for the security of the people” of the city.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told AFP that it was “mathematically impossible” for the US and its allies to evacuate the tens of thousands of Afghan staff and their families by August 31.
The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, Armin Laschet, admitted that the German government should have listened to calls to speed up the evacuations before the Taliban takeover.
The US and Germany advised citizens against traveling to Kabul airport due to concerns over potential security threats.
Protests took place in Germany and in the UK’s capital city London in a show of support for Afghans.
US Major General Hank Taylor said US citizens coming to the Kabul airport were still being processed, despite an earlier warning by the State Department against going to the airport.
ab, kmm/sri (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)