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Qatar offering COVID vaccines to Afghanistan evacuees yet to transit

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By Reuters

DUBAI -Qatar is offering COVID-19 vaccines to evacuees from Afghanistan who are temporarily staying in the Gulf Arab state, which has been facilitating global evacuation efforts since the Taliban seized Kabul, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Qatar, which hosts the largest U.S. military base in the region, has so far helped evacuate more than 40,000 people to Doha and will continue to facilitate international efforts in “the coming days”, the ministry said in a statement.

Those who do not immediately transit to other countries are being provided with a PCR test and COVID-19 vaccine, if requested, it said, adding that Doha is temporarily hosting “a large number of evacuees most of them students, families and journalists”.

Pressure to complete moving out thousands of foreigners and Afghans who helped Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban has intensified, with all U.S. and allied troops due to leave the airport next week.

Fellow Gulf state the United Arab Emirates has helped evacuate 36,500 people, including 8,500 coming to the UAE via its national carriers or airports, a senior Emirati official told a news briefing on Thursday.

The UAE in coordination with the United States has set up a transit hub and processing centre in the capital Abu Dhabi for evacuees to undergo health and security screenings before continuing to the United States or a third country, he added.

Qatar has agreed with the United States to temporarily host 8,000 Afghan nationals while the UAE and Kuwait would host 5,000.