As the Taliban sealed their grip on Afghanistan with the capture of Kabul on Sunday, many in the country — including Afghans that have worked with US and European forces — are fearing for their lives, and have spent the better part of the week attempting to flee.
President Biden said yesterday the US estimates between 50,00 to 65,000 Afghan partners and their families are trying to get out of the country. In order to get them out before the Aug. 31 deadline, the President said evacuations will have to ramp up.
But statements put out by governments including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union on the commitment to their Afghan partners have been criticized as meek and uncertain, with thousands of Afghans desperate to flee now facing an uncertain future.
Afghans who have a long history of working with, or for the US government or contractors, who are still awaiting evacuation, tell CNN they feel trapped and abandoned. And it remains unclear whether those who have managed to flee will be given asylum in the country they have been evacuated to.
Here's what some countries have said so far:
United States: Biden on Wednesday suggested for the first time that he's willing to keep US forces in Afghanistan until all American citizens who want to leave are out of the country, but stopped short of making the same commitment to the United States' Afghan partners. The US has evacuated 1,800 individuals from Afghanistan over the last 24 hours, a total of 6,000 since Saturday, according to a White House official. Biden said in an ABC News interview yesterday that there are still between 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan.
European Union: Top diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc cannot rescue all Afghans from the country. The EU has been able to evacuate 106 EU staff from Afghanistan, but “there are still 300 more Afghan staff" who are trying to get a flight out, Borell said.
“These people have loyally promoted and defended EU interests in Afghanistan over many years, it’s our moral duty to protect them and to help to save as many people as possible,” he said, while conceding the EU won’t be able to rescue everyone.
United Kingdom: British forces have evacuated 306 UK nationals and 2,052 Afghan nationals so far, and a further 2,000 Afghan applications have been completed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“These are interpreters, locally engaged staff and others who have risked their lives supporting our military efforts,” Johnson said. “We are proud to bring these brave Afghans to our shores."
He promised that the UK “will not be sending people back to Afghanistan” but added that the government will also now allow people to come from Afghanistan to this country "in an indiscriminate way."
Czech Republic: Two flights from Kabul, carrying Czech and Afghan citizens, has already reached Prague this week, according to the Ministry of Defense. One landed on Monday and the other landed on Tuesday. There were 46 people on board the first flight and 87 on the second one. A third flight also flew out of Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Germany: The country has been operating a shuttle service between Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Kabul several times a day as part of its evacuation efforts. More than 900 people have been evacuated, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. This includes German citizens, local forces and other people at risk. These evacuees were first flown from Kabul to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Since then, some of them have been flown to Frankfurt, Germany. However, it is unclear, if those included Afghan nationals.
Italy: About 85 Afghan nationals were evacuated on Wednesday.
“Our commitment is to work with the utmost effort to complete the evacuation plan for Afghan collaborators, activists and those exposed to danger,” Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini said in a press release.
Evacuees were taken to Kuwait and then transferred to a flight en route to Italy, the press release read, and added that plans were in place to evacuate another 150 people and bring them to Italy. A first plane carrying Italian diplomats and their Afghan assistants had arrived in Rome from Kabul on Monday.