Switzerland and Germany have cancelled evacuation flights from Kabul as people are not being able to reach the airport due to the worsening security situation in Afghanistan.
"The security situation around Kabul airport has worsened significantly in the last hours. A large number of people in front of the airport and sometimes violent confrontations are hindering access to the airport in Kabul," Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said in a statement.
Switzerland said on Friday it had organised a charter flight to Uzbekistan for the evacuation of people from Afghanistan but this had to be postponed as the individuals could not reach the Kabul airport.
Germany has also cancelled evacuation flights scheduled for Saturday and other countries too are facing increasing problems in getting their citizens and local employees out of Afghanistan, the ministry said.
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U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that about 13,000 people have been evacuated on U.S. military aircraft since Aug. 14. However, his promise to evacuate over 20,000 at-risk Afghans who have been working with the U.S. government appears to have run into the Taliban barrier as many of these individuals are facing an uphill task in reaching the airport.
Some of these people are still in the provinces and have to go through several Taliban check-points before they can reach Kabul. Many of those who are in Kabul are unable to reach the airport as they cannot get past the gun-toting Taliban fighters who have set up barriers at crucial points.
The Taliban has agreed to “a safe passage” for civilians but this does not appear to be working on the ground.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg admitted in an interview on CNN that at-risk Afghans were facing a problem in reaching the Kabul airport. He said that NATO was in touch with the Taliban leadership to allow such individuals to come to the airport.
India’s embassy staff in Kabul had also been held up for a day as they could not reach the Kabul airport on Monday but eventually contact was established with the Taliban leadership to enable them to board the Indian Air Force plane at the Hamid Karzai Airport on Tuesday. Armed Taliban fighters had escorted the Indian contingent to the airport.
CNN chief reporter in Kabul confirmed that the at-risk Afghans were terrified and facing a problem in reaching the airport.
The deadline for the evacuation mission is Aug. 31 so it appears to be a race against time. However, President Biden has said that the last date would be extended if all American nationals are not evacuated by then.