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Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani in UAE on 'humanitarian grounds'

Ghani fled Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday following Taliban's takeover of the country
Afghan men stand next to the a torn poster of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Kabul airport on 16 August, 2021 (AFP)

The UAE has announced that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been welcomed into the Gulf state on "humanitarian grounds".

Ghani fled the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday in the wake of the Taliban's takeover of the country.

"The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds," the UAE Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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Earlier on Wednesday, the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan told the BBC that Ghani had escaped with $169m in cash in bags before Kabul fell to the Taliban. 

Russia's embassy in Kabul also alleged that Ghani had fled the country with four cars and a helicopter full of cash. 

"Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit," Nikita Ischenko, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Kabul, told Reuters

It is unclear when he flew to the UAE.

There had been speculation that he had fled to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, or Oman.

In a Facebook post, Ghani said he left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban and avoid "a flood of bloodshed" in Kabul.

"Today, I made the hard choice; I should stand to face the armed Taliban who wanted to enter the palace or leave the dear country that I dedicated my life to protecting the past twenty years," said Ghani.

"The Taliban have it made clear they want to remove me and hear [sic] to attack the whole of Kabul. In order to avoid a flood of bloodshed, I thought it was best to leave."

On Sunday, the Taliban declared "victory" after its forces took control of Kabul and the rest of the country in a matter of days following the withdrawal of US troops. 

The takeover led to thousands of Afghans rushing to Kabul Airport in a bid to leave the country.

Images posted online showed desperate scenes as Afghans tried to climb into - and onto - the sides of aircraft in the hope of leaving the country. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Taliban were accused of beating and whipping women and children despite previous promises of "safe passage" for those leaving via Kabul airport. 

The European Union, the United States, and 18 other countries issued a joint statement on Wednesday saying they were "deeply worried about Afghan women and girls", urging the Taliban to ensure their safety.

Meanwhile, Russia and China have signalled their willingness to work with the Taliban.

In a dramatic culmination to the Taliban takeover, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the movement's co-founder and deputy leader, returned to Afghanistan from Qatar on Tuesday night.

He chose to touch down in the country's second-biggest city Kandahar - the Taliban's spiritual birthplace and capital during their first time in power.