Taliban forces have sealed off Kabul’s airport to most Afghans hoping for evacuation, as the United States and its allies wound down a chaotic airlift that will end their troops’ two decades in Afghanistan.
Western leaders acknowledged that their withdrawal would mean leaving behind some of their citizens and many locals who helped them over the years, and they promised to try to continue working with the Taliban to allow local allies to leave after President Joe Biden’s Tuesday’s deadline to withdraw from the country.
Although most of its allies had finished their evacuation flights, the US said it planned to keep its round-the-clock flights going until the deadline.
According to US government figures, the air bridge allowed for the evacuation of 112,000 Afghans and foreign nations since August 14, the eve of the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, and 117,500 people since late July.
The United Kingdom was carrying out its final evacuation flights on Saturday, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to “shift heaven and earth” to get more of those at risk from the Taliban to the UK by other means.
Johnson discussed the evacuations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a phone call on Saturday.
The three leaders “agreed on the fact that the evacuation of their nationals, Afghan personnel [who had worked with their armed forces] and people in danger was always the highest priority, as well as providing humanitarian supplies to the populations. and refugees from the region”, said Merkel’s spokesman Stefan Seibert.