THE United States struggled on Thursday to pick up the pace of American and Afghan evacuations at Kabul airport, constrained by obstacles ranging from armed Taliban checkpoints to paperwork problems. With an Aug 31 deadline looming, tens of thousands remained to be airlifted from the chaotic country. Taliban fighters and their checkpoints ringed the airport — major barriers for Afghans who fear that their past work with Westerners makes them prime targets for retribution.
Hundreds of Afghans who lacked any papers or clearance for evacuation also congregated outside the airport, adding to the chaos that has prevented even some Afghans who do have papers and promises of flights from getting through. It didn’t help that many of the Taliban fighters could not read the documents. In a hopeful sign, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington that 6,000 people were cleared for evacuation Thursday and were expected to board military flights in coming hours. That would mark a major increase from recent days. About 2,000 passengers were flown out on each of the past two days, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Kirby said the military has aircraft available to evacuate 5,000 to 9,000 people per day, but until Thursday far fewer
designated evacuees had been able to reach, and then enter, the airport. Kirby told reporters the limiting factor has been available evacuees, not aircraft. He said efforts were underway to speed processing, including adding State Department consular officers to verify paperwork of Americans and Afghans who managed to get to the airport. Additional entry gates had been opened, he said. And yet, at the current rate it would be difficult for the US to evacuate all of the Americans and Afghans who are qualified for and seeking evacuation by August 31.
Mah NGO seeks PM’s nod to ‘adopt’ 1,000 stranded Afghan students
IN A first of its kind humanitarian gesture, a Maharashtra NGO has sought permission from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ‘adopt’ around 1,000 stranded Afghan students who are in dire straits after the Taliban takeover of their motherland, here on Friday.
In a letter to the PM, NGO Sarhad’s President Sanjay Nahar, Working President Surendra Wadhwa and Chief Organiser Santsingh Mokha narrated the plight of the young students in Pune, Mumbai, other parts of the State and rest of India.