Chaos at Kabul airport as Afghans try to flee
Afghans scramble to the Kabul airport, which is being secured by the Americans. The airport is the only way out for now as the Taliban encircled the capital. DW has the latest.
- Chaos at the Kabul airport as Afghans scramble for the last remaining exit
- The Taliban took control of the capital on Sunday, issuing film from within the presidential palace
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled with no interim government in place
- US military ferries last remaining diplomats in Kabul to the airport by helicopter as the flag was lowered at the US embassy
- After facing criticism over the delay, a German military transport plane set off for Kabul on Monday morning
- The UN Security Council will convene later in the day
This story was last updated at 10:48 (UTC/GMT).
Merkel: Afghanistan's "painful hours"
In a meeting with her Christian Democrat (CDU) cohort in parliament Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party colleagues Afghanistan is experiencing "painful hours." The German government has dispatched a second and third military aircraft as it steps up evacuations.
Merkel said Germany relies on US troops to hold and control the airport in Kabul to enable the evacuations of German and Afghan nationals who assisted German forces over the last 20 years. Consultations with the Americans suggest it may be possible to continue evacuations until August 31.
Merkel said that as many as 10,000 people may require evacuation.
She said her government would seek a mandate from parliament to deploy as many as several hundred soldiers to assist with the airlift. German troops are only permitted to deploy abroad with authorization from parliament.
The chancellor told party colleagues that Berlin would support Afghanistan's neighbors should they have to cope with an influx of refugees.
Ultimately, Merkel acknowledged, the Taliban would control who gets to leave the country, the German press agency DPA reported.
Commercial flights out of Kabul are cancelled
Commercial flights from Kabul were cancelled Monday as Afghanistan's Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) announced Kabul airspace had been released to the military.
On its website, the ACAA announced the "civilian side of Hamid Karzai International Airport (Kabul airport) is closed until further notice."
Civilian aircraft over Afghanistan were advised to reroute because any transit through Kabul-controlled airspace, which includes all of Afghanistan, was likely to be uncontrolled.
In a message to reporters, the Kabul airport authority announced, "There will be no commercial flights from Hamid Karzai Airport to prevent looting and plundering. Please do not rush to the airport."
Lufthansa said all its flights would reroute to avoid Afghan airspace starting Monday. Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed commercial flights including an Air India flight from Chicago to Delhi and a Terra Avia plane traveling from Baku to Delhi had changed course to avoid an Afghan overflight.
Chaos at Kabul airport after the Taliban takes charge overnight
US troops securing the Kabul airport reportedly fired shots in the air Monday as chaotic scenes unfolded with Afghans scrambling onto the tarmac in the hopes of catching a flight out of the country after the Taliban took charge over night.
A correspondent with German public broadcaster ARD shared footage from the scene with audible gunshots.
An official told Reuters, "The crowd was out of control," as hundreds of civilians ran onto the tarmac. "The firing was only done to defuse the chaos."
At this time, the airport is the only viable exit still available out of the country as many border crossings have been closed while others have fallen under Taliban control.
German military transport takes off, bound for Kabul
Germany's Defence Ministry said early on Monday that the first A400M military transport plane had taken off from an airfield near Hanover, bound for Kabul, "to bring those in need of protection from Afghanistan to safety."
On Twitter the ministry wrote, "What's clear: it is a dangerous mission for our troops."
On a typical flight, an A400M has space for just over 100 passengers. The plane is supposed to bring back embassy staff, German citizens, and some Afghan staff fearing Taliban reprisals. Several flights are planned.
German media outlets, including Deutsche Welle, also published an open letter urging the government to establish an emergency visa scheme for journalists and other staff in the country.
Both France and Turkey say their evacuation flights will arrive Monday evening.
New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern calls on Taliban to respect human rights
At a press conference in Wellington, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called on Taliban leaders to follow through on their stated commitments by allowing women to continue to work and let girls go to school.
"Talibanned": From kite-running to breakdancing – not again!
During their 1996-2001 rule, the Taliban outlawed dozens of activities in Afghanistan. Now, with the insurgents once more making huge territorial gains across the country following the U.S. and NATO withdrawal, people are very fearful of what may come next. By Jay Deshmukh
The musician: Japani player Sayed Mohammad still remembers the evening two decades ago when the Taliban broke into a house where he and his friends were playing music and singing songs. "I was young, so I was beaten less than my friends. Still I was unable to stand for three days." When the insurgents were ousted, Mohammad celebrated by attending a concert. "When the music played, I felt a tremor passing through my body out of sheer joy," he said. "If the Taliban cut off our fingers we will still play"
The makeup artist: in a small shop in the Afghan capital Kabul, beautician Farida transforms a shy young Afghan woman into a radiant bride-to-be. Oversized false eyelashes are delicately glued on, followed by the application of a rich carmine-red lipstick. Next comes eyeshadow, before beige and ochre blush is delicately brushed on
Despite its bustling popularity, Farida's beauty parlour is one of hundreds across the country that face an uncertain future. The Taliban severely restricted the movement and activities of women and girls during their rule, and banned beauty parlours from operating in public. "If they come back, we'll never have the freedom we have now," said 27-year-old Farida, who asked not to be further identified. "They don't want women working"
Farida's shop is busiest on Thursday and Friday – the weekend in Afghanistan, when hundreds gather for huge wedding ceremonies. Out of the sight of men, the women come to be pampered for a few hours. Beauty comes at a price, however. At Farida's salon, one of Kabul's most popular, a full treatment package can cost up to $300. "I think the Taliban will force us to leave when they come," Farida said, adding she would love to move to Canada, given the chance
The kite-maker: in a bustling Kabul market shop, surrounded by hundreds of colourful kites of all sizes, Zelgai says he is determined not to give up the business his family has run for generations – and he has flown close to the wind before. The Taliban outlawed kite flying on the grounds it distracted young men from praying and other religious activities, but Zelgai and his family kept operating. "Of course, we did it in secret," says the 59-year-old
His colourful store has hundreds of fragile ready-made kites for sale, and he also takes orders for elaborate custom designs. Business has soared in the years since the Taliban were ousted. "This is freedom... we are able to showcase and sell our kites openly without any fear," Zelgai said. Today, when the wind is right, thousands of kites can be seen fluttering in Afghanistan's clear blue skies. "People would suffer if it were banned. Thousands of families survive on this"
The breakdancer: the day 18 year-old Manizha Talash took up breakdancing she knew she would become a target for the Taliban. Talash is the only female member of a group of mostly Hazara boys who practice breakdancing in Kabul – usually in secret. "If the Taliban have not changed and they lock women at homes and trample their rights, then life would be meaningless for me and for millions of other women of Afghanistan," said Talash. "I have fear in my heart, but I won't give up"
The shisha smokers: Mohammad Saleem and his friends gather every evening to smoke shisha, an ancient pastime enjoying something of a renaissance across the world. "Smoking shisha is very normal at the moment in Afghanistan," said Saleem, puffing the vapours of fruit-flavoured tobacco from a bubbling hookah. But the Taliban say it is an intoxicant – something prohibited by the Koran. "If the Taliban come back with their old ideas then they will stop us"
The barber: while men in rural areas tend to stick to Islamic styles – a shaved top lip, a beard longer than a man's fist – city slickers are a parade of the latest fashion. Ghaderi and his customers fear their individualism will end if the Taliban return. "We are afraid that if the Taliban enter the city and the bazaar, they might be the same as they were 20 years ago," he said. "Again women will be in burka and young men would not be free to do what they want," added a customer
Ardern noted the situation on the ground deteriorated much faster than anticipated and said New Zealand would send a C-130 military aircraft and personnel to evacuate New Zealanders still in the country and the approximately 37 Afghans who worked alongside the New Zealand defense forces and their dependents.
Ardern said, "The whole world is watching. Taliban is making claims about the type of administration they wish to be. We would implore them to allow people to leave safely."
She conceded, "It's not a matter of trust — it's going to be all about the actions, not the words."
Taliban take control in Kabul as Ghani flees
On Sunday, hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan, Taliban fighters entered the presidential palace according to footage shot by Al Jazeera. The flag on the US embassy was lowered as US diplomats were ferried to the airport by helicopter, including the acting ambassador.
Many cities and districts in Afghanistan fell with little fanfare in recent days as the Afghan security forces largely crumbled in the face of the insurgency. By Sunday, the Taliban were able to enter Kabul with little to no resistance.
The Taliban's rapid advances have effectively coincided with the withdrawal of NATO troops from the country, almost 20 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks. (Deutsche Welle)