- Title: WRAP: Western nations race to complete Afghan evacuation as deadline looms
- Date: 25th August 2021
- Summary: KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AUGUST 25, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AFGHANS QUEUING OUTSIDE BANK VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF BANK VARIOUS OF AFGHANS QUEUING OUTSIDE BANK
- Embargoed: 8th September 2021 14:32
- Keywords: Afghanistan Boris Johnson Joe Biden Kabul Kabul airport Taliban evacuations refugees
- Location: VARIOUS
- City: VARIOUS
- Country: Various
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Insurgencies,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA00EERS0YTJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A WRAP OF HIGHLIGHTS OF EDITS THAT HAVE ALREADY MOVED. THERE IS NO NEW MATERIAL IN THIS EDIT
Western nations rushed to evacuate people from Afghanistan on Wednesday (August 25) as the August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops drew closer and fears grew that many could be left behind to an uncertain fate under the country's new Taliban rulers.
In one of the biggest such airlifts ever, the United States and its allies have evacuated more than 70,000 people, including their citizens, NATO personnel and Afghans at risk, since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept into the capital Kabul to bring to an end the 20-year foreign military presence.
U.S. President Joe Biden said U.S. troops in Afghanistan faced mounting danger, while aid agencies warned of an impending humanitarian crisis for those left behind.
Biden has spurned calls from allies to extend the deadline, set under an agreement struck by the previous administration of Donald Trump with the hardline Islamist group last year. But he said on Tuesday (August 24) the deadline could be met.
"The sooner we can finish, the better," Biden said. "Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops."
British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the deadline for evacuating people was up to the last minute of the month.
France said it would push on with evacuations as long as possible but it was likely to end these operations in the coming hours or days.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would try to help Afghans who worked with its soldiers and aid organizations and wished to leave Afghanistan after the deadline expires.
"The end of the air bridge in a few days must not mean the end of efforts to protect Afghan helpers and help those Afghans who have been left in a bigger emergency with the takeover of the Taliban," she told the German parliament.
On Wednesday, crowds of people remained outside the airport - where soldiers from the United States, Britain and other nations were trying to maintain order amid the dust and heat - hoping to get out.
They carried bags and suitcases stuffed with possessions, and waved documents at soldiers in the hope of gaining entry.
While the focus is now on those people trying to flee, the risk of starvation, disease and persecution is rising for the rest of the population after the chaotic exodus from Kabul airport ends, aid agencies say.
A barber working in Kabul said on Wednesday he was scared of what Taliban rule could mean for his trade in the future.
"In the previous system of the Islamic Emirate, our work was against the law, and they said that men's make-up and tattoos are not allowed, so the clientele is very low, everyone is scared and I work in fear," said Mohammad Amin Noori.
The Taliban's 1996-2001 rule was marked by harsh sharia law, with many political rights and basic freedoms curtailed and women severely oppressed. Afghanistan was also a hub for anti-Western militants, and Washington, London and others fear it might become so again.
(Production: Marissa Davison, Hannah Ellison)
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