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China slams US ‘scapegoating’ before COVID origin report release

China decries the US ‘politicisation’ of efforts to trace the origin of the virus ahead of the release of a US intelligence report.

A joint WHO-China team visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology but the US said it had concerns about the access granted during the investigation [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]
A joint WHO-China team visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology but the US said it had concerns about the access granted during the investigation [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

25 Aug 2021

China has criticised the “politicisation” by the United States of efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus, demanding a US military laboratory be investigated, shortly before the release of a US intelligence community report on the virus.

The US report is intended to resolve disputes among intelligence agencies considering different theories about how the coronavirus emerged, including a once-dismissed theory about a Chinese laboratory accident.

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“Scapegoating China cannot whitewash the US,” Fu Cong, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ arms control department, told a news briefing on Wednesday.

The US report was due to be completed by a Tuesday deadline but it would take a few days to prepare an unclassified version for public release, the White House press secretary said this week.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_114570380Play Video

China has said a laboratory leak was highly unlikely. It has ridiculed a theory that coronavirus escaped from a lab in the city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 infections emerged in late 2019, setting off the pandemic.

China has instead suggested that the virus slipped out of a lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland, in 2019.

“It is only fair that if the US insists that this is a valid hypothesis, they should do their turn and invite the investigation into their labs,” said Fu.

On Tuesday, China’s envoy to the United Nations asked the head of the World Health Organization for an investigation into US labs.

A joint WHO-Chinese team visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology but the US said it had concerns about the access granted during the investigation.

When asked if China would stop talking about the Fort Detrick laboratory if the US report concluded the virus did not leak from a Chinese lab, Fu said: “That is a hypothetical question, you need to ask the US.”

Fu said China was not engaged in a disinformation campaign.

Biden given inconclusive intelligence report: Post

Meanwhile, US media reports said a classified US intelligence report delivered to the White House on Tuesday was inconclusive on the origins of the pandemic, in part due to a lack of information from China.

The assessment, ordered by US President Joe Biden 90 days ago, was unable to definitively conclude whether the virus that first emerged in central China had jumped to humans via animals or escaped a highly secure research facility in Wuhan, two US officials familiar with the matter told the Washington Post.

Despite Biden’s directive that the intelligence community “redouble their efforts” to untangle the origin debate, the 90-day review brought them no closer to consensus, the officials told the Post.

Former US President Donald Trump and his aides had helped fuel the lab-leak theory, using it to deflect blame for their administration’s handling of the world’s biggest outbreak, and instead finger point at Beijing, which strongly denies the hypothesis.

China has said a laboratory leak was highly unlikely. It has ridiculed a theory that coronavirus escaped from a lab in the city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 infections emerged in late 2019, setting off the pandemic.

China has instead suggested that the virus slipped out of a lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland, in 2019.

“It is only fair that if the US insists that this is a valid hypothesis, they should do their turn and invite the investigation into their labs,” said Fu.

On Tuesday, China’s envoy to the United Nations asked the head of the World Health Organization for an investigation into US labs.

A joint WHO-Chinese team visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology but the US said it had concerns about the access granted during the investigation.

When asked if China would stop talking about the Fort Detrick laboratory if the US report concluded the virus did not leak from a Chinese lab, Fu said: “That is a hypothetical question, you need to ask the US.”

Biden given inconclusive intelligence report: Post

Meanwhile, US media reports said a classified US intelligence report delivered to the White House on Tuesday was inconclusive on the origins of the pandemic, in part due to a lack of information from China.

The assessment, ordered by US President Joe Biden 90 days ago, was unable to definitively conclude whether the virus that first emerged in central China had jumped to humans via animals or escaped a highly secure research facility in Wuhan, two US officials familiar with the matter told the Washington Post.

Despite Biden’s directive that the intelligence community “redouble their efforts” to untangle the origin debate, the 90-day review brought them no closer to consensus, the officials told the Post.

Former US President Donald Trump and his aides had helped fuel the lab-leak theory, using it to deflect blame for their administration’s handling of the world’s biggest outbreak, and instead finger point at Beijing, which strongly denies the hypothesis.

UNICEF warns 10 million Afghan children in desperate need: Live

Aid agencies warn millions are at risk of starvation, disease, as US and allies step up evacuation efforts.

Afghans walk through a fenced corridor to enter Pakistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing in Chaman [AFP]
Afghans walk through a fenced corridor to enter Pakistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing in Chaman [AFP]

By Tamila Varshalomidze and Usaid Siddiqui25 Aug 2021|Updated: 8 minutes ago

Ten million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF Afghanistan warns as the UN’s World Food Programme seeks $200m in food aid.

Children in Afghanistan already survive on humanitarian assistance and approximately a million are expected to suffer from life-threatening malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF.KEEP READINGTaliban issues new warning against extending evacuation deadlineG7 demands Taliban guarantee Afghans safe passage after August 31Afghan small business owners in anxious wait over what comes next

David Beasley, executive director of WFP said 14 million people – one-third of the Afghan population – face food insecurity “because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by COVID”.

The World Bank has suspended aid to Afghanistan, freezing hundreds of millions in funding. It has provided $5.3bn since 2002 and has 27 projects there. Last week, the IMF blocked the delivery of payments.

Meanwhile, the US and its Western allies are stepping up evacuation efforts after US President Biden stuck to an August 31 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

More than 70,000 people, foreigners and Afghans, have been evacuated since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept into Kabul.

Here are the latest updates:


Pakistan PM Khan and Russian President Putin speak on Afghanistan conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have held a telephone conversation on the way forward in Afghanistan today, the Pakistani premier’s office said in a statement.

“The Prime Minister [Imran Khan] stressed that a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan was vitally important for Pakistan and regional stability,” read the Pakistani statement.

“Besides ensuring safety, security and protection of rights of Afghans, an inclusive political settlement was the best way forward. The Prime Minister underscored that the international community must stay positively engaged in support of the people of Afghanistan, to help address humanitarian needs and ensure economic sustenance.”

Russian President Putin’s office did not immediately release a statement following the talks. The conversation comes after Putin held “an in-depth discussion” with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier.

Afghans who worked with Lithuania arrive in Vilnius

Two planes carrying Afghan interpreters who earlier worked with Lithuanian forces in Afghanistan and their families touched down in the Baltic country.

A total of 170 people have been evacuated to Lithuania from Kabul through Warsaw, in Poland.

In Norway, two planes from Afghanistan with a total of 278 passengers landed in Oslo, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported.


US forces are communicating evacuee credentials to Taliban checkpoints: Pentagon

United States military commanders in Kabul are communicating regularly with Taliban authorities about the specific credentials people need to get into the airport to leave the city, Pentagon officials said.

“We’ve been very clear with Taliban leaders about what credentials we want them to accept. It’s American citizens, SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, referencing the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programme for Afghans who worked for the US.

“We have shared what the proper credentials are and by-and-large – not saying it’s been perfect – but by-and-large the people that we have made clear to the Taliban we want to have access through the checkpoints, have been able to get through,” Kirby said.

There have been reports of people with credentials being blocked from the airport and in the Pentagon has acknowledged sending helicopters on three occasions to extract people from the city.


Taliban agrees to let Afghans leave after Aug 31: German envoy

Germany said it has received assurance from a Taliban negotiator that Afghans who have the right documents will still be allowed to leave Afghanistan after the United States’ withdrawal deadline on August 31.

Germany’s envoy Markus Potzel said on Twitter he had met with Taliban deputy chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who “assured me that Afghans with legal documents will continue to have the opportunity to travel on commercial flights after August 31”.

Berlin has said that the current military operation carried out by NATO allies to evacuate Afghans in need of protection cannot continue once the Americans pull out.


US military developing ‘options’ for extending timeline in Kabul: Pentagon

The United States military is continuing to prepare for a full withdrawal of US forces from the airport in Kabul by August 31 but is developing “options” to remain longer if necessary, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

“One of our main jobs is to make sure that the president has options and as he made clear yesterday he wants to see this mission complete by the end of the month,” Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

“We are still working towards that goal, but we will be drafting-up potential – what we call in the military – branches and sequels,” Kirby said.


Poland halts Afghan airlift over safety as US deadline looms

Poland ends its evacuations from Afghanistan, according to an official, making it one of the first Western countries to halt operations helping people flee the Taliban takeover as a full American withdrawal looms.

Marcin Przydacz, a Polish deputy foreign minister, said that a group taken from Kabul, and now in Uzbekistan, was the last group evacuated by Poland.

Read more here.


US has airlifted 19,000 people from Kabul in last 24 hours: general

The United States military has airlifted 19,000 people from the airport in Kabul in the past 24 hours as the pace of the US evacuation effort increased, Army General Hank Taylor told reporters at a Pentagon media briefing.

There were 11,200 people evacuated on 42 US military flights and 7,800 transported on charters and by other countries, Taylor said.Presently there are about 10,000 people at the airport inside the security perimeter awaiting departure, he said.

“This is a snapshot in time and, as we said yesterday, will continue to change as more people are able to come on to the airfield and as flights depart,” Taylor said.

Poland halts Afghan airlift over safety as US deadline looms

Poland ends its evacuations from Afghanistan, according to an official, making it one of the first Western countries to halt operations helping people flee the Taliban takeover as a full American withdrawal looms.

Marcin Przydacz, a Polish deputy foreign minister, said that a group taken from Kabul, and now in Uzbekistan, was the last group evacuated by Poland.

Read more here.


US has airlifted 19,000 people from Kabul in last 24 hours: general

The United States military has airlifted 19,000 people from the airport in Kabul in the past 24 hours as the pace of the US evacuation effort increased, Army General Hank Taylor told reporters at a Pentagon media briefing.

There were 11,200 people evacuated on 42 US military flights and 7,800 transported on charters and by other countries, Taylor said.Presently there are about 10,000 people at the airport inside the security perimeter awaiting departure, he said.

“This is a snapshot in time and, as we said yesterday, will continue to change as more people are able to come on to the airfield and as flights depart,” Taylor said.


‘Strange period’ for the Taliban: Afghan media head

The head of Afghanistan’s biggest independent broadcaster, Tolo News Saad Mohseni, said “the future is uncertain because we have no clarity in terms of what the Taliban will do with the media, with women at work, education of women.”

Mohseni, speaking on Fox News, said it is a ‘strange period’ for the Taliban who have to win over the political opposition, consolidate their rule over the country and win hearts and minds.

“Most important of all they have to convince people like you, internationals, that they are people you can do business with.” Because of that, the Taliban may behave very differently today than they do in six months, he said. “This forever war that is ending for you is going to continue for us.”


Scenes of ‘chaos’, ‘panic stricken’ people at Kabul airport: AJ correspondent

As the evacuation deadline of August 31 nears, scenes of ‘chaos’ and ‘panic stricken people’ can be witnessed at Kabul airport, Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reported.

“We had a team on the southern gate of the airport a couple of hours ago. They describe a scene of chaos. Taliban are doing their best to keep people back, firing in the air, using  water hoses and tear gas,” he said.

“One lady told the team she had all the paperwork she was legitimate in her plight to get out according to the kind of requirements that the US and NATO are needing. But she said two things are being made difficult by many people who are going they’re just taking a punt … so desperate to get out, even though they don’t have the paperwork. But she said that she was willing to take a bullet or risk taking a bullet if it meant she could get on one of these planes.”

US: Pelosi says congress members trip to Afghanistan ‘not…a good idea’

Democratic United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said a secret trip to Afghanistan by two US legislators – a Democratic and Republican – was “deadly serious”. “It was not, in my view, a good idea,” Pelosi said.

“We don’t want anybody to think that this was a good idea and they should try to follow suit.”

Representatives Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer flew in and out on charter aircraft and were on the ground at the Kabul airport for several hours on Tuesday. They have since sought to deflect criticism that their trip diverted resources from evacuees.


ISIS could be a problem for Taliban in coming days: analyst

An academic and analyst at the University College London believes there is “certainly a possibility” for ISIS (ISIL) to be a threat to the Taliban in the upcoming days.

“ISIL has been active in Afghanistan for over five years now, they are considered a rival of the Taliban, that you have essentially been at war with initial battles in 2015 and again in 2017,” Julie Norman told Al Jazeera.

She said ISIL can be expected to take advantage of what is a “security vacuum” in Afghanistan.

“They will be trying to take advantage of the Taliban needing to move on to governance of trying to consolidate power in different ways, and they’ll be looking to fill that vacuum with personnel on the ground, as well as trying to bring in fighters and also resources from Syria and Iraq.”


Afghan stuck in Belarus border camp risks dying: charity

A 52-year-old Afghan woman stuck in a makeshift migrant camp on the border between Belarus and Poland risks dying without urgent help, a charity helping the migrants told AFP news agency.

The group of some 30 migrants has been stuck on the EU’s eastern frontier for more than two weeks, with Polish border guards and soldiers preventing them from entering to make asylum claims.

While Poland has flown in hundreds of evacuees from Afghanistan in recent days, the government has ruled out allowing in migrants who it says are being forced across the border by the Belarusian regime in a “hybrid attack” on the European Union.

Bulgaria welcomes 70 Afghan refugees

Bulgaria will grant asylum to some 70 Afghan citizens and their families, the country’s caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev told reporters.

He said the Afghan nationals have previously worked at the Bulgarian Embassy in Kabul or within the Bulgarian military missions in Afghanistan.

He did not elaborate about the timing and the route of the evacuation.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_114570382Play Video


Mexico receives fleeing Afghan media workers including from NY Times

Mexico received 124 media workers and their family members from Afghanistan, including New York Times journalists, the government said , as people flee after the Taliban group’s takeover.

They arrived at Mexico City’s international airport where Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard waited to greet them.

“Mexico has decided to support human rights applications for refuge, asylum and humanitarian visas for people in Afghanistan who have asked to have this humanitarian condition,” Ebrard said.


Putin, Xi agree to jointly combat Afghanistan ‘threats’

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed their countries will step up efforts to counter “threats” emerging from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover, the Kremlin says.

In a phone call, the two leaders “expressed their readiness to step up efforts to combat threats of terrorism and drug trafficking coming from the territory of Afghanistan,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

They also spoke of the “importance of establishing peace” in Afghanistan and “preventing the spread of instability to adjacent regions”.


https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_114570384Play Video


Pakistani FM discusses Afghanistan with Uzbekistan counterpart

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is continuing his four-country tour of Afghanistan’s other neighbours on Wednesday, meeting with his Uzbekistan counterpart in the capital Tashkent.

A Pakistani foreign ministry statement on the meeting echoed words from Qureshi’s earlier meetings with Tajik leaders earlier in the day, saying Qureshi “remarked that peace in Afghanistan would bring stability in the region, promote trade and facilitate people to people linkages.

“It was therefore important that neighbours of Afghanistan coordinate closely on the situation in Afghanistan.”

Next on Qureshi’s tour will be Turkmenistan, followed by a visit to Iran, which is both Pakistan and Afghanistan’s southwestern neighbour.


Afghan all-girl robotics team members land in Mexico

Five members of an all-girl Afghan robotics team have arrived in Mexico, fleeing an uncertain future at home after the recent collapse of the US-backed government and takeover by the Taliban armed group.

“We give you the warmest welcome to Mexico,” Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Delgado said on Tuesday evening as she greeted them during a news conference at Mexico City’s international airport.

Read more here.


Taliban shows off ‘special forces’ in propaganda blitz

The Taliban has been showing off its own “special forces” on social media, soldiers in new uniforms equipped with looted American equipment who contrast sharply with the image of the usual Afghan fighter.

Pictures and videos of fighters in the so-called “Badri 313” unit show men in uniforms, boots, balaclavas and body armour similar to those worn by special forces around the world – and unlike the shalwar kameez, turban and sandals of the traditional Taliban fighter.

Rather than a battered Russian-designed Kalashnikov rifle slung over their shoulder, the men of Badri 313 hold new US-made rifles such as the M4, sometimes with night-vision goggles and advanced gunsights.


South Korea takes in 390 Afghan staff on ‘special merit’

South Korea plans to take in about 390 people from Afghanistan as part of its evacuation operation in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

According to the foreign ministry in Seoul, they are local personnel who worked at the South Korean Embassy in Kabul or in facilities, including hospitals, built by South Korea in Afghanistan before the Taliban took power.

The Afghans are expected to arrive in South Korea on Thursday along with their families, vice foreign minister Choi Jong Moon said. They had asked to come to South Korea because of the insecurity in Afghanistan, he said.


Afghan resistance leader promises ‘no surrender’

The leader of a resistance movement to the Taliban has promised to never surrender but is open to negotiations with the new rulers of Afghanistan, according to an interview published by Paris Match.

Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary Afghan rebel commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has retreated to his native Panjshir valley north of Kabul along with former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

“I would prefer to die than to surrender,” Massoud told French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy in his first interview since the Taliban took over Kabul. “I’m the son of Ahmad Chah Massoud. Surrender is not a word in my vocabulary.”

US: About 19,000 people evacuated from Kabul on Tuesday

About 19,000 people were evacuated from Kabul on Tuesday, raising the total number airlifted out of Afghanistan since August 14 to 82,300, the White House says.

In the past 24 hours, 42 US military flights and 48 coalition flights helped evacuate people from the Afghan capital amid the Taliban takeover, it said.


Plane with 240 evacuated Afghan nationals lands in Budapest

A plane carrying 240 evacuated Afghan nationals, including 126 children, landed in the Hungarian capital Budapest, the state news agency MTI reported, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

MTI said a convoy carrying the evacuees had left Budapest’s international airport to an immigration facility on the border with Serbia where they will be placed in quarantine and go through immigration checks.


Germany to help Afghans seeking to leave beyond deadline

Germany will try to help Afghans who worked with its soldiers and aid organisations and wish to leave Afghanistan even after an August 31 deadline to end a US-led military evacuation operation, Chancellor Angela Merkel says.

“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,” Merkel told the German parliament.

“We are working intensively at all levels to find how we can protect those who helped us, including through the civilian operation of the airport in Kabul,” she added.


Poland halts Afghan airlift over safety concerns

Poland says it has halted its airlift evacuations from Kabul’s airport over safety concerns.

Marcin Przydacz, a Polish deputy foreign minister, said the decision was made after consulting with US and British officials. He added that a group that had been taken from Kabul to Uzbekistan was the last evacuated by Poland. Another plane is on its way to Warsaw.

“After a long analysis of reports on the security situation we cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer,” Przydacz said. Some troops will remain briefly to carry out duties such as closing the base, he said.

About 1,000 Afghans receive permission to travel to Russia: RIA

Russia has allowed about 1,000 Afghans to enter the country from Afghanistan, RIA news agency reports, citing a Moscow-based organisation of Afghan expatriates.

Among those who received permission to travel are holders of Russian passports or those with permanent residence rights and students of Russian universities, it said.


UNICEF Afghanistan: 10 million children in desperate need

Ten million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance since the Taliban swept to power this month, a UNICEF Afghanistan spokesperson says.

Children in Afghanistan already survive on humanitarian assistance and about one million are expected to suffer life-threatening malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF.

The organisation said it expects the humanitarian situation in the country to worsen due to a severe drought, the onset of winter and the coronavirus pandemic.


‘Afghanistan lost its most educated and capable generation’

Bilal Sarwary, an independent Afghan journalist who left Kabul on an evacuation flight to Qatar, told Al Jazeera fleeing his country was “a painful decision”.

“I have been covering the story of my country and my people over the last 20 years. I was shocked how quick Kabul fell to the Taliban without a fight,” he said. “And then I had the Taliban come at my door several times. They obviously know who I am, I am very active on social media … I was feeling not safe along with my family.”

“Although I have studied in the West, I never thought of leaving behind my life, my country… On the flight that I came in, I saw everyone that has represented Afghanistan over the last 20 years in media, civil society, art, history. All I could think of was the loss for the country, the brain drain. It was the unbelievable pain … not only have we lost everything, Afghanistan also lost its most educated and capable generation.”


China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin discuss Afghanistan

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged views on Afghanistan in a call, according to Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily.

Xi urged all parties in Afghanistan to build an open and inclusive political framework, implement moderate, stable policies and cut ties with all “terrorist” groups, it said.


https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_114570386Play Video


Hundreds endorse open letter by Arts for Afghanistan

Hundreds of organisations and cultural workers have endorsed an open letter by a group called Arts for Afghanistan, calling on the US government to evacuate Afghan artists, performers, writers, filmmakers, photographers and other cultural workers.

The letter’s authors said cultural workers have been taking grave risks in depicting the experiences and articulating the aspirations of Afghans, often with the encouragement and direct support of the US government.


Afghans kept in wretched conditions at US base in Qatar

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby says the US is working on improving conditions for Afghan evacuees at a US airbase in Qatar after video obtained by media outlets showed them living in inhuman conditions.

Photos and video footage shared with Al Jazeera showed hundreds of Afghans crowded together in unsanitary conditions in a hangar at Al Udeid airbase.

Read more here.


Russia begins Afghan evacuation, holds military drills in Tajikistan

Russia has begun evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan and holding military exercises for its tank forces in neighbouring Tajikistan.

Russia’s defence ministry said it had deployed a number of T-72 tanks to Tajikistan’s mountains and practised long-range firing at moving targets, Interfax news agency reported.

The ministry also said it was evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan, including Russians and citizens of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.


Anti-Taliban fighters dig in to defend Panjshir Valley

Atop a craggy mountain that has withstood foreign invaders for decades, anti-Taliban fighters fire a mounted heavy machine gun into a deep valley.

They are members of the National Resistance Front (NRF) – the most prominent Afghan opposition group to emerge since the Taliban captured Kabul nine days ago.

Read more here.


Planes leaving Kabul with empty seats: WSJ

A group of American veterans, military contractors, aid workers and former spies is scrambling to get as many people out of Afghanistan as they can before President Biden shuts the window for rescues in coming days, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“Erik Prince, the American defence contractor, said he is offering people seats on a chartered plane out of Kabul for $6,500 per person. U.S. and NATO forces are sending special rescue teams into Taliban-controlled areas of the city to spirit their citizens into the airport. And countless Afghans who thought the US would protect them after having assisted the US-led coalition forces in the past two decades are now realizing that they will most likely be left behind, to face Taliban wrath alone,” the report says.

“Private rescue efforts are facing growing obstacles this week, just as the urgency grows. Chartered planes are flying out of Kabul with hundreds of empty seats. New Taliban checkpoints on the road to Pakistan have made driving out of the country increasingly risky.”


As thousands flee Afghanistan, some earlier refugees want to return

From trucks stuffed with carpets, bedding, clothes and goats, about 200 Afghan refugees look towards Spin Boldak in their country’s south, waiting to return home from Pakistan.

“We emigrated from Afghanistan during bombing and hardships when Muslims were in trouble, now, praise be to Allah, the situation is normal, so we are returning to Afghanistan,” Molavi Shaib told the AFP news agency at the border.

“People want to return but they are not allowed to cross, we request the Pakistani government to allow us to cross the border because there’s no war, and peace has been established,” Muhammad Nabi said.


Taliban preventing Afghans from reaching Kabul airport

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said “the situation has changed overnight” around the airport.

The Taliban have set up a checkpoint 5km (3 miles) from the northern gate of the Kabul airport, where most of the Afghans hoping to flee the country have gathered over recent days, he said.

“They are not allowing anybody unless they… have a US visa, US passport or invitation from either the US or any of the NATO countries,” he said. “We understand there is a similar situation at the eastern gate. The Taliban have set up a checkpoint there, preventing people getting through without the requisite documents… There is a sense of increasing panic,” he said.


https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_114570388Play Video


Afghan refugees arrive in Uganda: foreign ministry

A flight carrying Afghan evacuees has touched down in Uganda where they will be given temporary refuge, government and diplomatic officials say.

“The Government of the Republic of Uganda this morning received Fifty One (51) evacuees from Afghanistan who arrived aboard a privately chartered flight at the Entebbe International Airport,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said this followed a request from the US government to temporarily host “at-risk” Afghan nationals and others who are in transit to the US and other destinations worldwide.



Nearly all UK citizens without dual nationality evacuated: Raab

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says that almost all British citizens without dual nationality had been evacuated from Afghanistan.

“The lion share, almost of them who want to come out, have been brought home,” Raab told Sky News.

He said in the last 24 hours, some 2,000 people had been brought to Britain from Kabul.

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