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. 

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)


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