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Thousands of Afghans flee from Kabul, Aug 31 may not be enough

CM 23/08/2021 4


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Crowds have thronged Kabul airport desperate to flee the country every day since Taliban militants took the Afghan capital on August 15. Many without papers have been turned away.
As of August 22, some 6,000 US troops were working to evacuate US military, American citizens and Afghans who are approved for Special Immigrant Visas. SIVs are a special program to protect Afghans who risked their lives working for US troops in Afghanistan.
Germany, France, Italy and the UK are conducting smaller evacuation efforts for their nationals and some Afghans.

On Monday, Hungary has evacuated 173 people from Afghanistan, including many at the request of the United States and Austria, on a plane that arrived in Budapest, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.
Of these, some 96 are Afghan nationals who had helped Hungary and its allies in Afghanistan, Szijjarto claimed. It is unclear whether they will be offered asylum in Hungary.
The Foreign Minister also called on US troops at Kabul airport not to impede people Hungary wants to fly out from getting into the airport.
“We have brought out a large part of passengers at American and Austrian request…In exchange we expect our allies, including the Americans, not to hinder people whom we want to evacuate from getting into Kabul airport,” he told reporters.
 Marines with the 24th Expeditionary Unit (MEU) guide an evacuee during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, in this photo taken on August 18, 2021 (credit: US NAVY/CENTRAL COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS/SGT. ISAIAH COMPBELL/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Marines with the 24th Expeditionary Unit (MEU) guide an evacuee during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, in this photo taken on August 18, 2021 (credit: US NAVY/CENTRAL COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS/SGT. ISAIAH COMPBELL/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Meanwhile, some 300,000 people remain displaced in Afghanistan amid advances by the Taliban insurgents.
More than 500 tonnes of medical supplies including surgical equipment and severe malnutrition kits due to be delivered to Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
Nearly 18.5 million people – half the population – rely on aid and the humanitarian needs are expected to grow due to drought. But the closure of Kabul airport to commercial flights has held up deliveries, WHO regional emergency director Dr. Richard Brennan told Reuters.
“While the eyes of the world now are on the people being evacuated and the planes leaving, we need to get supplies in to help those who are left behind,” Brennan said in an emailed statement.
The United States has enlisted six commercial airlines to help move Afghan evacuees; however, Washington and NATO coalition partners have so far indicated that they cannot bring supplies on incoming evacuation planes due to “operational constraints and security concerns,” Brennan said.
“The US is using these commercial airlines only for evacuation,” he said, adding that the WHO was exploring various options and reaching out to other governments.
“We have been advised to explore options at other airports such as Kandahar, Jalalabad and Bagram air bases. We do not yet have aircraft to fly even to those bases.”
The executive director of the UN children’s agency UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, said on Monday around 10 million children across Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance and that conditions are expected to deteriorate further.
At the same time, other countries joined in the efforts to evacuate Afghans.
Jordan has agreed to allow 2,500 Afghan citizens to pass through the kingdom as they fly to the United States, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
It did not say when the arrangement, agreed with Washington on humanitarian grounds, would come into force.
Germany has airlifted almost 3,000 people originating from 43 countries from Kabul airport, Chief of Defence Eberhard Zorn told reporters on Monday in Berlin.
Among the evacuees are 143 Germans, around 1,800 Afghans and around 350 European Union nationals, he said.
 Evacuees from Afghanistan disembark a Spanish military plane as part of their evacuation at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 20, 2021. (credit: REUTERS) Evacuees from Afghanistan disembark a Spanish military plane as part of their evacuation at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 20, 2021. (credit: REUTERS)
The pace of these poorly planned evacuations has been slow. They are taking place amid chaos in Kabul, where crowds are being confronted by violence from members of the now-ruling Taliban and US forces and facing checkpoints that are near-impossible to pass.
Shaharzad Akbar, who leads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, called the situation “failure upon failure.”
As a scholar specializing in forcible displacement and refugees, I see this harrowing scene unfolding within a broader context of Afghanistan’s long-standing displacement crisis. This includes an unequal sharing of refugees between the developed world and economically disadvantaged countries.
Over the past 20 years, the US admitted more than 20,000 Afghan refugees – an average of roughly 1,000 per year. But during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, just 11,800 refugees from around the world settled in the US – amongst them were only 495 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa recipients. That number seems tiny compared to the approximately 20,000 Afghans who are currently in the pipeline waiting for an SIV and the additional 70,000 Afghans — including applicants and their immediate family members — who are eligible to apply.
For decades, Afghans have also migrated or fled to Europe. Between 2015-2016, 300,000 of them arrived on the continent. They were the second largest group of refugees and asylum-seekers after Syrians. Asylum seekers are people seeking refugee status, but whose claim has yet to be evaluated.
The Afghan population across the European continent remains small and unevenly distributed. Up until the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021, many Afghans were facing deportations. Germany is the largest European host, followed by Austria, France and Sweden.
For the first three months of 2021 about 7,000 Afghans were granted permanent or temporary legal status in the European Union. They are distributed between Greece, France, Germany, and Italy, with smaller Afghan contingents in other EU states.
Australia – based on its 2016 census – has approximately 47,000 Afghans who are permanent residents, some of whom began arriving as early as 1979. Approximately another 4,200 Afghans have received temporary protected status.
This still leaves an enormous number of Afghans who are displaced without a permanent home – more than half a million have already been displaced by the violence so far in 2021 according to the UN refugee agency. Some 80% of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children.
As of 2021 and prior to the current crisis, at least 3.5 million Afghans remained uprooted within Afghanistan because of violence, political unrest, poverty, climate crisis, and lack of economic opportunity.
The vast majority of Afghan refugees do not settle in the West.
Pakistan, which shares a 1,640-mile land border with Afghanistan, has long absorbed the largest number of Afghan refugees even though it is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol. Within two years of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, following the conflict ignited by the rise of the Mujahideen, 1.5 million Afghans had become refugees. By 1986, nearly five million Afghans had fled to Pakistan and Iran.
Since March 2002, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, had repatriated nearly 3.2 million Afghans, but in April 2021, the United Nations reported more than 1.4 million Afghan refugees remained in Pakistan due to ongoing violence, unemployment and political turbulence in Afghanistan.
Iran also remains a significant host for Afghans, with nearly 800,000 registered refugees and at least two million more who are unregistered. Smaller numbers of Afghan refugees and asylum-seekers are in India (15,689), Indonesia (7,692) and Malaysia (2,478).
Turkey – the world’s largest refugee host with over 3.8 million registered Syrian refugees – has 980 registered Afghan refugees and 116,000 Afghan asylum-seekers.
The latest figures from the AP show more than 47,000 Afghan civilians and at least 66,000 Afghan military and police forces have died in the 20-year-old Afghanistan war.
 Afghanistan Special Forces try to keep a crowd from entering, outside Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021 in this still image obtained from a social media video obtained by REUTERS. (credit: REUTERS) Afghanistan Special Forces try to keep a crowd from entering, outside Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021 in this still image obtained from a social media video obtained by REUTERS. (credit: REUTERS)
Even prior to the Taliban takeover of Kabul, civilian casualties had risen by 29% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020. A UN report from July 26, 2021 found there was a 37% increase in the number of women killed and injured, and a 23% increase in child casualties compared with the first quarter of 2020.
Still, adoption of hard-line policies and anti-refugee sentiments across much of Europe means that relatively few Afghans will find sanctuary on the continent. Austria and Switzerland have already refused to take in large numbers of Afghans. Turkey, already straining with refugees, said it does not want to become “Europe’s refugee warehouse.”
Other countries committing to take in Afghans temporarily in small numbers include Albania, Qatar, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. Uganda, which already hosts 1.5 million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, has also agreed to take in 2,000 Afghans temporarily.
Biden said US troops might stay beyond their Aug. 31 deadline to oversee the evacuation. But a Taliban leadership official said foreign forces had not sought an extension and it would not be granted if they had.
 US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN during a speech in the East Room at the White House in Washington, this week. (credit: REUTERS/ELIZABETH FRANTZ) US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN during a speech in the East Room at the White House in Washington, this week. (credit: REUTERS/ELIZABETH FRANTZ)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will urge Biden this week to extend the deadline. Defense Minister Ben Wallace said Britain was “down to hours now, not weeks” in its evacuation plan and forces on the ground needed to use every moment they had to get people out. 
Johnson’s spokesperson said Britain still wanted to fly out thousands of people and had not set a hard deadline for when evacuations end.
“We will continue to run our evacuation process as long as the security situation allows… We need to be flexible in our approach,” the spokesperson said, adding that it would not be possible for British evacuations to continue once US troops leave.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also said on Monday that France is concerned about the Aug. 31 deadline set by the United States. “More time is needed to complete the current operations.” 
French planes have so far evacuated more than 1,000 Afghans through Abu Dhabi where Paris has a military base, the ministry said earlier.
Meanwhile, the United States discussed “at a very basic level” using its bases in South Korea to temporarily house refugees from Afghanistan, but talks on the issue have not progressed, according to a statement by South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong on Monday.
Chung said any use of American bases for refugees would require permission of the South Korean government.
American bases in countries such as Qatar have been used to temporarily host refugees being airlifted from Kabul airport. At the American air base in Ramstein Germany, US soldiers have set up more than 70 military shelters for up to 10,000 evacuees from Afghanistan.
 People carry Afghan flags as they take part in an anti-Taliban protest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan August 18, 2021. (credit: Pajhwok Afghan News/Handout via REUTERS) People carry Afghan flags as they take part in an anti-Taliban protest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan August 18, 2021. (credit: Pajhwok Afghan News/Handout via REUTERS)
The US military flew approximately 10,400 people out of Kabul over 24 hours on Sunday, and 61 coalition planes helped evacuate approximately 5,900, a White House official said on Monday.
Since Aug. 14, the US has gotten 37,000 people out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, or helped with their evacuation, the official said.

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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