‘Evacuation from Kabul among the most difficult in history’
US President Joe Biden has admitted that the evacuation operation from Kabul is “one of the most difficult in history,” stating that he was unable to guarantee the “final outcome” of this risky operation. Speaking from the White House, Biden said the US does not know exactly how many Americans were left in Afghanistan or where they were, but added, “We will do everything we can to give a safe evacuation to the Americans and Afghans who are in danger because they have collaborated with foreign forces.
Biden and Draghi for a common approach to the G7
US President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have underlined the importance of continuing a “close coordination” between American and Italian military and civilian personnel in Kabul. In a telephone conversation, they also highlighted “the opportunity for the G7 to plan a common approach on Afghanistan in the next virtual summit of leaders”.
NATO stops all support to Afghan authorities
NATO foreign ministers have said in a statement that in the current circumstances, the organisation has suspended all support to Afghan authorities. “Any future Afghan government must adhere to Afghanistan’s international obligations; safeguard the human rights of all Afghans, in particular women, children and minorities; uphold the rule of law; enable free humanitarian access; and ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.” They also expressed deep concern at reports of serious violations and abuses of human rights throughout Afghanistan”. News from Afghanistan says the Talibans are continuing with their house-to-house searches, looking for former activists, artists and people who had sided against the regime in the past.
Chaos at the airport
Chaos is growing at Kabul airport, where clashes have been going on for days. The Italian NGO Emergency said some ten thousand people are trying to take evacuation flights. Continuing tensions prompted the military to use tear gas to disperse crowds attempting to enter the airport after the Pentagon announced that evacuation operations would be speeded up. Soldiers also fired air shots. And while he was on his way to the airport to try to leave the country, a German citizen was hit by a bullet. His wound is not life-threatening. Some US troops have had to leave the Kabul airport to retrieve, by helicopter, at least 169 people stranded and unable to evacuate. The UN Refugee Agencyhas called for the borders of neighbouring countries not to be closed and for refugees to be given asylum in any case they escape. Approximately $68 million is urgently needed to assist internally-displaced people and in neighbouring countries.
Taliban executed police chief
A shocking video released on social networks shows Haji Mullah Achakzai, the police chief of the Afghan province of Badghis, near Herat, brutally executed by the Taliban. The police chief, who was a senior intelligence official, was killed on Wednesday. Afghan security adviser Nasser Waziri, who knew Achakzai personally, confirmed the authenticity of the video to Newsweek, explaining that extremists shared it through a network linked to the Taliban. Meanwhile, Turkey has evacuated at least 40 senior Afghan government officials from Kabul. Among them was the second vice president Sarwar Danish, foreign minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and the head of the National Security Directorate, Ahmad Zia Sraj, as well as three other former ministers and several deputies.
Record COVID-19 cases as police block Sydney protest
More than 1,500 Australian police officers patrolled the streets and blocked transport into the centre of Sydney today to prevent a planned anti-lockdown protest as the country reported a record high daily number of new COVID-19 cases. Officials reported a total of 886 cases in New South Wales and Victoria states, with the vast bulk in Sydney, which is the epicentre of the Delta variant-fuelled outbreak.