The US Air Force evacuated about 640 Afghan civilians from Kabul on Monday evening — in just one plane. That reports the news portal Defenseone.com, citing employees of the US Department of Defense. However, it was not intended to fly such a large number of people out of Afghanistan, it said. As the anonymous US defense officer explained, a large number of Afghans in their desperation had access to the cargo hold of the C-17 Globemaster 3 aircraft, a huge US Air Force cargo plane that Fliegers had purchased.
But instead of trying to evacuate the Afghans released for evacuation from the interior of the plane, the crew “made the decision to take off” and fly the people to Qatar, the officer told the news portal. “About 640 Afghan civilians left the plane when it arrived at its destination,” it said.
The Bundeswehr’s first evacuation machine, on the other hand, was only able to fly seven people out of the Afghan capital on Monday evening due to the dangerous situation at Kabul Airport. “Due to the chaotic conditions at the airport and the regular firefights at the access point, it was not guaranteed last night that other German civilians and other people to be evacuated would gain access to the airport even without protection from the Bundeswehr,” the spokesman said. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported this on Tuesday.
The Airbus A400M is officially designed for 114 passengers. However, it is said that during the evacuation operation, up to 150 people could be transported with him. Those who fled are five Germans, a person from another European country and an Afghan local employee who worked or works for the Bundeswehr or a federal ministry.
More people could not reach the machine on the runway. Access for people who were in the civilian part of the airport was “not made possible by the partners who exercise security responsibility at the airport,” the spokesperson said. The plane also had to leave the airport after a short time. “Due to the extremely dangerous situation on the access routes to the airport, especially in the evening and at night, it would have been an unbearable risk to the life and limbs of the local population to call on the evacuees to go to the airport airport before they were granted landing permits and before access was secured by the armed forces.”
Matthias Gebauer, correspondent for the news magazine “Der Spiegel”, tweeted Tuesday morning that according to German security circles it was uncertain “until the last minute” whether the Airbus A400M could even land in Kabul. “Therefore, the embassy team was unable to direct any of the Germans remaining in Kabul to the airport.” The US would only have let people in if there had been a machine.
The evacuation of the Bundeswehr Airbus did not receive a landing permit until 10 p.m., Gebauer continued. Due to the 9 p.m. curfew and Taliban checkpoints, it was not possible to bring more people seeking protection to the military section of the airport. Afghans who persisted in the civilian part should not have been arrested.
According to Gebhauer, the approximately 80 paratroopers dropped by the Bundeswehr in Kabul should try to lead more Germans to assembly points in the city and from there to the military section of the airport. “No one can guarantee it will work,” Gebauer tweeted. The situation could change at any moment, they say.”
It was not until Monday evening that the Bundeswehr was able to use the first machine to bring the paratroopers of the “Rapid Forces” division, which had been specially trained for evacuation operations, to Kabul with the first machine. “With the support of the Bundeswehr troops who have now arrived in Kabul, we are working hard to make this possible for the first evacuation groups in the coming hours,” the spokesman said.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) said Tuesday morning on ARD that the flight took place under extremely difficult conditions. “We have a very confusing, dangerous, complex situation at the airport, mainly because of the crowds,” said the CDU politician. (with dpa)