The UK effort to evacuate British nationals and local allies fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan is “gathering pace”, a diplomat has said, with 5,725 people extracted from Kabul since the mission began on August 13.
But another seven Afghan civilians were killed in the chaos surrounding Kabul’s international airport, the British military said on Sunday, showing the danger still facing those trying to flee Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would convene leaders of G7 countries Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States on Tuesday for “urgent talks” on the situation in Afghanistan.
He said: “It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.”
Chaos has unfolded at Kabul Airport since the Taliban recaptured the city, with people being crushed amid stampedes of Afghans desperate to escape the country.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether those killed had been physically crushed or suffocated.
Soldiers covered several corpses in white clothes to hide them from view. Other troops stood atop concrete barriers or shipping containers, trying to calm the crowd. Gunshots occasionally rang out.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible.”
Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan provided an update on the UK’s evacuation effort on Sunday afternoon, saying British forces had helped more than 5,000 fly out of the country.
Sir Laurie Bristow said the “huge effort” to move people out of Afghanistan is “gathering pace” but there is still a lot of work to do.
He tweeted: “So far we have managed to get over 5,000 people on to planes and in the last 14 hours alone we’ve managed to get a thousand people on their way. But there is still a huge amount of work to do.
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