US Marines provide assistance during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Friday. AFP
The desperation deepened for thousands still scrambling to leave the country via a chaotic evacuation operation in the Afghan capital on Saturday.
Roads leading to Kabul airport were choked with traffic, while families hoping for a miracle escape crowded between the barbed-wire surrounds of an unofficial no man's land separating the Taliban from US troops and remnants of an Afghan special forces brigade helping them.
Six days after the Taliban swept to power, the flow of people trying to flee continued to overwhelm the international community.
Evacuee children wait for the next flight after being manifested at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul. Reuters
The desperate scenes of people clinging to aircraft taking off from Kabul’s airport have only deepened Europe’s anxiety over a potential refugee crisis. The U.S. and its NATO allies are scrambling to evacuate thousands of Afghans who fear they’ll be punished by the Taliban for having worked with Western forces. But other Afghans are unlikely to get the same welcome.
Even Germany, which since 2015 has admitted more Syrians than any other Western nation, is sending a different signal today.
Video of a US soldier lifting a baby over a wall at Kabul's airport offered the latest imagery of the utter despair, following horror footage of people hanging onto the outside of departing planes.
"Please, please, please help me... where should I go, what should I do," one man, who said he worked for the US embassy in the mid-2000s, wrote on a WhatsApp group set up for people to share information on how to get out.
A US Marine grabbing an infant over a fence of barbed wire during an evacuation at Kabul airport on August 19. AFP
"I have tried to get there (to the airport) for some days, but I cannot reach. Please save me."
The crisis has cast another shadow over the United States' status as a global superpower and its ability to help allies around the world.
"The situation in Afghanistan was intense,” said one young man, Hassan Khan. "The Taliban captured the whole of Afghanistan. But there is no work in Afghanistan, we were compelled to come here.”
Observers say there are no indications yet of any mass movement across the border. Turkish authorities say they have intercepted 35,000 Afghans entering the country illegally so far this year, compared with over 50,000 in all of 2020 and more than 200,000 in 2019.
These were not conventional passengers, as none of them appeared to be carrying any baggage, having abandoned all their belongings while fleeing the dreaded Taliban.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai also defended the Taliban's role in recent bloodshed across the country after US President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed an American soldier as his reason for calling off negotiations earlier this month.
According to a pool report from a journalist accompanying Pompeo, the top US diplomat was welcomed by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — the lead US negotiator in recent talks with the Taliban — after arriving at Kabul airport.
The envoy, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of a February agreement with the Taliban clearing the way for a US troop withdrawal, met Taliban leaders in Doha on Wednesday, hours after meeting government leaders in Kabul.
The convoy arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Crossing, and is the largest medical support of its kind provided by the UAE to Gaza since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa discussed challenges of the media industry with attendees at the meeting, exploring ways to expand the sector’s role in the UAE’s development.
Fuelled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, infections exploded during the past four weeks, with around two million cases recorded.
Thick fog continued to form for the second day in a row across various parts in the country on Thursday. The fog lasted for 12 hours and a half in several areas of the country on Thursday, as it started at exactly 10 pm and continued until 10:30am, because of the country being affected by surface high-pressure systems, accompanied with a ridge of upper air high pressure, according to the National Centre for Meteorology (NCM).