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French citizen recounts 'frantic' trip to Kabul airport for evacuation

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By Euronews
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Refugees queue on the tarmac after disembarking from an evacuation flight from Kabul, at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, 30 km from Madrid, on August 24, 2021.
Refugees queue on the tarmac after disembarking from an evacuation flight from Kabul, at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, 30 km from Madrid, on August 24, 2021.   -   Copyright  PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

A French citizen who was evacuated from Afghanistan recounted her "frantic" trip to the Kabul airport, stating that money had to be paid to the Taliban in order for her group of foreigners to get to the airport.

Victoria Fontan, a professor of peace and conflict studies at the American University of Afghanistan, told Euronews that the Taliban put her and others in her group under "house arrest and made it almost impossible for us to actually reach the airport."

"From the beginning till the end, it was quite uncertain if we could actually make it to the airport even as internationals," Fontan said.

She is one of tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14.

"There is a special person responsible, appointed by the Taliban to ensure what they call the safe passage of internationals to the airport. But it's really an extortion more than anything else," she told Euronews.

"They searched us until they took everything from us, even the radios at the end. And then they put us on buses and we were left to one of the airport gates, thankfully, one of the less crowded airport gates," she explained, stating that it took two hours to get into the airport.

She called the experience "heartbreaking" as people desperately begged to be let into the airport.

"We knew we were the chosen few that would be able to flee, but all the others were absolutely desperate to be with us in those buses and we just couldn't take them," Fontan said.

"It breaks my heart that Afghans were standing with us shoulder to shoulder for 20 years. We promised them a different life. They worked for us. They suffered with us."

_Watch the full interview in the video player above.
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