Afghanistan: 146 evacuees reach India today via various flights
At least 146 people evacuated from Afghanistan reportedly reached India on Monday via various flights. India has been evacuating its citizens, officials, along with nationals from other countries from Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control of the country over a week ago. The United States—which is managing the Kabul international airport—has said it is hoping to complete evacuations by August 31.
According to ANI, 146 people evacuated from Afghanistan reached Delhi on Monday via various flights. Reportedly, Qatar Airways flight QR578 carrying 30 passengers reached Delhi from Doha at 1:55 am. Air India flight AI 972 reportedly reached Delhi from Doha carrying one person from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, an IndiGo and a Vistara flight evacuating people from Afghanistan also reached Delhi on Monday.
An evacuee, Sunil, told ANI, "We left (Afghanistan) on August 14. A US Embassy flight took us to Qatar where we stayed at an Army base. The US Embassy spoke with the Indian Embassy after which people from the Indian Embassy came to take us."
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Sunday that the evacuation from Afghanistan was proceeding in a "flawless manner." He said the government will repatriate all Indian nationals who wish to return. Around 500 people are yet to be repatriated, he said. The government is taking steps to ensure travel to the Kabul airport itself is feasible for those stranded.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters on Sunday, US President Joe Biden said that he hopes to complete the evacuation from Afghanistan by August 31. Biden had earlier not ruled out extending the deadline. He said the threat of Islamic State extremists is prevalent in Afghanistan. "We know that terrorists may seek to exploit the situation," he said. "It's still a dangerous operation."
"There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and the heartbreaking images you see, it's just a fact. My heart aches for those people, you see," said Biden, "if we didn't leave Afghanistan now, when would we?" When asked if he trusts the Taliban, the US President said, "I don't trust anybody."
A White House official said that the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 30,300 people on military and coalition flights since August 14. "Since the end of July, we have relocated approximately 35,500 people," they said. The US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces are managing the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The Taliban started gaining ground in Afghanistan as the US withdrew its troops to end its two-decade-long 'War on Terror'. The group quickly captured several key cities, storming the Presidential Palace in the capital of Kabul on August 15. Thousands of civilians and foreign nationals have since been rushing to flee the country as the Taliban plans to install a government.