Afghans who formerly worked with EU missions in Kabul are trapped indoors and cannot get to the airport to be evacuated, a former employee of the Dutch embassy told Euronews.
On Monday the Taliban’s military commanders issued a public call for fighters to immediately stop searching homes in the Afghan capital and taking down the details of ex-diplomatic staff.
But a father-of-two hiding in Kabul said a lack of co-ordination within the ranks meant the informal raids were still going on. “They’re still doing it,” he said. “I’m watching them right now from my flat.
“Another major problem is that there are groups of criminals looting shops. The Taliban have emphasised they will protect people’s security and not disturb people who were working with foreigners. But there’s still a lot of fear and panic. Everybody is trying to stay inside.”
Too late for a visa
For most Afghans who were formerly staff on EU missions it is now too late to obtain a visa. Some governments -- including the Danish, German, Dutch and Czech authorities -- are still working to process departures at Kabul Airport.
France has relocated its embassy in Kabul to the airport to evacuate all citizens still in Afghanistan, initially transferring them to Abu Dhabi. The British and German ambassadors also both stayed on at Kabul Airport yesterday to personally process visas for former staffers.
But, the ex-Dutch employee said, it’s currently near-impossible to get to the airport. “There were thousands of people there yesterday. About five percent are eligible for evacuation; 95 percent are normal people who think the planes will take everybody, which isn’t true.
“There’s no way to enter the airport right now. The Americans are shooting at people, the Taliban are shooting at people. It’s too risky for us to go with kids.”
Terrified of reprisals
He added that most foreign missions need Afghans to bring some form of ID, such as a passport, and their contract to ensure they are eligible to leave. But most are too afraid to do so in case they are intercepted by the Taliban and identified.
Their fingerprints are on the Interior Ministry’s internal database, he said, and many are terrified of reprisals if they are caught on the way to the airport.
US military flights from Kabul resumed on Tuesday after chaos on the runway forced a near-total shutdown on Monday afternoon, with US forces taking control of the compound.
At least one flight took off bound for Germany on Tuesday. But the staff member claimed most EU planes are still not being granted permission to land.
“I’m eligible to go to Holland,” he said, “and I’d like to thank the Dutch embassy in Kabul; they’ve been in good contact with us. The Foreign Ministry told us to stay at home and wait for a phone call. But the plane that was supposed to come and take us, the Americans didn’t allow it to land.
“They need their planes to land in Kabul. They need to be taking us in armoured vehicles to a specific, alternative location in the city, where they could pick us up by helicopter. NATO and the US need to make a transparent timetable for leaving. But there isn’t one.”
This afternoon, he and former colleagues received an unconfirmed report that an Afghan who previously worked for a foreign mission had been killed in the capital.
“This is the worst possible situation,” he said. “I advised colleagues and friends to try to get to relatives’ houses. We are trying by ourselves to mitigate the risks.”
Many commercial airlines have stopped all flights in Afghan airspace based on guidance issued on Monday by the country's aviation authority. They include Air France, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Pentagon said up to 6,000 troops would be deployed to Kabul Airport "to enable the safe departure of U.S. and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights".