Afghanistan: France announces it has ended evacuations, imminent stop for the United Kingdom

The French airlift has closed. After Germany, Italy, Spain … France in turn has declared the end of evacuation operations from Kabul airport, while hundreds of people are still massed on the spot in the hope to leave the country.

“Operation Apagan, launched on August 15 at the request of the President of the Republic, ended this evening,” tweeted Florence Parly.

Nearly 3,000 people, including around 100 French nationals and more than 2,600 Afghans threatened for having worked for France or for their commitment to human rights, were evacuated, said the Army staff. This airlift had to be interrupted “the security conditions are no longer met at the airport” of Kabul, added Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian in a joint statement, because of the “rapid disengagement of the American forces” who will have left Afghanistan on August 31. The United States also announced that it killed an ISIS organizer on Saturday in a strike, following the attack which left more than 180 dead, including 13 American soldiers.

“The team from the French embassy in Kabul joined Abu Dhabi before returning to France”, they added, thanking “diplomats, soldiers, police officers and all the state services” who attended. mobilized “relentlessly” to allow these evacuations.

French Ambassador to Afghanistan David Martinon will continue to operate from Paris, President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

“The last French soldiers left Kabul this evening”, also tweeted the staff, which had dispatched a hundred soldiers there.

Discussions with the Taliban to allow further departures

In total, the French army provided 26 rotations between Kabul and the air base 104 in Abu Dhabi, the hub of the system, and 16 flights between Abu Dhabi and Paris. France, which calls for the establishment of humanitarian operations to allow the thousands of Afghans who have not managed to be evacuated to leave by other means, has announced that it will continue discussions in this direction. with the Taliban.

“Our efforts continue (…) To this end, we will continue our efforts made with the Taliban officials to ensure that they will not put any obstacle after August 31 to the departure of those who so wish,” noted the two ministers.

A French delegation met representatives of the Taliban in Doha on Thursday for the first time since they took power in Afghanistan on August 15. These discussions focused on the situation at Kabul airport and the evacuation operations, according to the two parties. The Taliban assure that anyone in possession of legal documents will be able to travel abroad and that the civilian airport will be reopened to allow the resumption of international flights.

UK: “We weren’t able to get everyone out and it’s heartbreaking”

The United Kingdom in turn announced that the operation to evacuate civilians will end on Saturday. “We are coming to the end of the evacuation, which will take place later in the day, and then of course it will be necessary to get our troops out on the remaining plane,” said the chief of the British armed forces, the General Nick Carter, on BBC Radio 4.

According to him, there are now only “very few” devices still evacuating civilians from Afghanistan via the Kabul airport, where thousands of people are massed in the hope of leaving Afghanistan. in August in the hands of the Taliban. The evacuation operation went “as smoothly as possible under the circumstances,” continued General Carter, “but we weren’t able to get everyone out and it’s heartbreaking.”

The Ministry of Defense assured Friday that more than 14,500 people had been evacuated since August 13, including about 8,000 Afghans eligible for the program intended for Afghan personnel employed locally by the United Kingdom.

He said that from now on only the candidates for departure whose cases had already been treated would be exfiltrated, after the closure of the treatment center at the Hotel Baron, near the airport.

“The UK’s ability to deal with other cases is now severely reduced and the additional figures (regarding evacuated civilians) will be limited,” he added, stressing the need to free up space “to bring out the remaining diplomats and military personnel ”.

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