Evacuation from Kabul underway – airlift planned | free press

Kabul / Berlin (dpa) – After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, the Bundeswehr began its airlift to rescue Germans and Afghans under the most trying of circumstances.

A transport plane took 129 people to the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Tuesday. Hours earlier, the first A400M plane had dropped paratroopers for the first time in Kabul and flew 7 people out of the country on the way back.

In the afternoon the first employees of the German embassy in Kabul returned to Germany after their evacuation. According to information from the German news agency, they landed on a scheduled plane at Berlin’s Schönefeld airport. On Monday evening, they were among the first 40 German citizens to be flown on an American plane to Doha in the Gulf of Qatar. It is still unclear how many of them exactly arrived in Schönefeld with the planned aircraft.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said in Berlin that the evacuation campaign is now “in full swing”. In response to the change of power, the German government stopped state development aid and all other aid payments to Afghanistan.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier demanded that Germany do everything possible to bring its own compatriots and the Afghans, who had been by their side for years, to safety. “In addition, we must work with our allies to find ways to help those now threatened by violence or death in Afghanistan, including many courageous women.”

Maas said in the evening that there were about 180 other people waiting at the airport in Kabul who could also be flown out. The problem at the moment is that the Taliban only allow foreigners through to the airport. Ambassador Markus Potzel had been sent to Doha, where he had previously participated in talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. He should work in concert to ensure that local staff can also come and depart from the airport.

According to Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU), three daily flights with the two A400M aircraft are planned between Kabul and the Uzbek capital Tashkent. The Bundeswehr flies “as far as it is somehow possible, people from Kabul, whether they are its own citizens, whether they are people of other nationalities, whether they are local workers or particularly vulnerable people.”

The state of Brandenburg wants to take over the first reception of arriving Afghan local staff. The Ministry of the Interior announced that this had been promised to the federal government.

The German government believes the return of the Taliban to power will trigger a flood of refugees from the country. Addressing the demand that Germany must accept refugee contingents, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin: “Before talking about contingents, one should first talk about safe options for refugees near Afghanistan. Then, in a second step, you can think about whether those people who are particularly affected with control and support are coming to Europe and other European countries.”

The chancellor called UN refugee commissioner Filippo Grandi. She also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with French President Emmanuel Macron and with the heads of government of Great Britain and Italy, Boris Johnson and Mario Draghi. They agreed to work closely together in the evacuation of European citizens and local personnel.

In a press conference, Merkel admitted that the West has failed to build a sustainable political system with greater freedom and development opportunities in Afghanistan. “At this point, we just have to say that we haven’t achieved our goals.” After the Taliban came to power, it is with concern that “it can all be reversed now”.

Federal President Steinmeier made a similar statement: “The failure of our longstanding efforts in Afghanistan to build a stable, sustainable community raises fundamental questions about the past and future of our foreign policy and military commitment.” The former foreign minister stressed: “We are experiencing a human tragedy today, for which we share responsibility, and a political turning point that will shake us and change the world.”

The Federal Cabinet wants to adopt the mandate for the Federal Armed Forces on Wednesday. Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to make a maximum of 600 Bundeswehr soldiers available for this. According to dpa information, she said this on Monday in the briefing of the Bundestag group leaders. This is to adopt the mandate in a special session in a week’s time. The FDP group expects a government statement from the chancellor, chairman Christian Lindner said. A special EU summit is also needed.

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