The European Union has said it is working to evacuate Afghan staff and their families from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and find suitable places to relocate them amid concerns for their safety under the new regime.
On Monday, a European Commission spokesperson told Reuters that the rapid evacuation of Afghan nationals, who had been employed by the EU in Afghanistan, was a top priority, adding that they were working with member states to ensure they could be moved to a safe place.
“The matter is extremely urgent, we take it very seriously and continue to work hard, together with EU member states, on implementing rapid solutions for them and [ensuring] their safety,” the spokesperson stated.
The number of local Afghan staff is uncertain as the EU does not publish such figures for security reasons.
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The US and Canada are among the nations already undertaking evacuation flights for Afghan nations who worked for them in war-torn Afghanistan.
In late July, the first flight carrying Afghan nationals, including translators and embassy employees, landed at Washington Dulles International Airport as part of an operation dubbed “Allies Refuge.” According to a document seen by the Associated Press, the airliner was carrying 221 Afghans, including 57 children and 15 babies.
The UK and US have both sent troops to oversee the evacuations. Britain, which has sent 600 troops back to Afghanistan, said on Monday that 300 British passport holders had left Afghanistan on Sunday as part of Operation Pitting. The mission also seeks to evacuate Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for the UK.
“If we manage to keep it in the way we’re planning to, we should have capacity for over 1,000 people a day to exit to the United Kingdom,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC, adding that the Taliban had confirmed via a Middle Eastern country that the airport could continue functioning.
There is concern that Afghans who worked for allied occupiers during the 20-year conflict may face reprisals under Taliban rule.
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