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Afghanistan evacuations: How Middle East nations are involved

Since the Taliban took over the central Asian nation, thousands have scrambled to escape. Middle Eastern countries have helped tens of thousands to flee
Refugees from Kabul walk from Dulles international airport in Virginia, US to a bus en route to a refugee processing centre, on 26 August 2021 (AFP)

Thousands remain trapped in Afghanistan following its capture by the Taliban.

A bomb attack on Thursday caused havoc and claimed dozens of lives at Kabul airport, causing further misery for those attempting to escape the country.

As the situation in Kabul continues to deteriorate, a number of Middle Eastern countries have been providing support for evacuees, including their own nationals.

Turkey

Turkey had originally been set to take control of and manage Kabul airport - but on Wednesday it instead started pulling troops out of the country, apparently dropping this objective.

Turkey, which was involved in military operations in Afghanistan as part of Nato, had around 500 non-military personnel stationed in the country.

On Thursday, the first plane carrying 345 Turkish military staff - including civilian personnel - landed in the capital, Ankara.

Qatar

Qatar long hosted representatives of the Taliban in its capital, Doha, and the Gulf state has been a crucial negotiator with the militant group.

On Thursday, the country said it had so far helped to evacuate more than 40,000 people to Doha and would continue to facilitate international efforts in "the coming days", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Those evacuated were hosted at Al Udeid Air Base, until overcrowding and poor conditions led to the opening of more facilities.

Israel

Israel-based humanitarian organisation Shai Fund said it was working to evacuate Afghans on private flights from Kabul airport, ahead of the deadline for the full withdrawal of US forces from the country.

The organisation told Middle East Eye on Wednesday that it was chartering private flights to Kabul airport, and had evacuated 300 people so far.

"We have had one flight so far get out with over 300 persons. Another two flights are on the Tarmac," Charmaine Hedding, an emergency response specialist and president of the group, told MEE in an email.

"We are helping anyone fleeing the Taliban who is at risk."

Bahrain

Bahrain said it was “allowing flights to make use of Bahrain’s transit facilities."

On Sunday, the kingdom said that a Gulf Air flight would transport people from its Isa Air Base to Dulles international airport, west of Washington.

The statement described the flight as an "affirmation of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s efforts to protect lives”.

United Arab Emirates

According to the UAE government, the country has helped evacuate 28,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

Of the 28,000 to have passed through the country, some 12,000 were evacuated by Britain, and 9,000 by the US, while prior to the fall of Kabul the UAE had helped evacuate 8,500 others, according to a statement from the government on Thursday.

Egypt

State media in Egypt announced on Monday that 43 of its citizens had been evacuated from Afghanistan, including Egyptian embassy staff and clerics from the Al-Azhar religious institution.

A military jet transporting the evacuees arrived in Cairo late Monday, according to the official MENA news agency.

Kuwait

On Tuesday, 5,000 at-risk Afghan refugees arrived in Kuwait under an agreement with the United States.

According to Reuters, US Ambassador Alina Romanowski said in a Twitter post that the flight arrived at a coalition military installation in Kuwait, but did not say how many were aboard.

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