US, allies scramble to evacuate thousands from Afghanistan

The US and its Western allies are stepping up evacuation efforts after US President Joe Biden stuck to the August 31 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

More than 70,000 people, foreigners and Afghans, have been airlifted out of Kabul since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital.

“The sooner we can finish, the better… each day of operations brings added risk to our troops,” Biden said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has suspended aid to Afghanistan, freezing hundreds of millions in funding. It has provided $5.3bn since 2002 and has 27 projects there. Last week, the IMF blocked the delivery of payments.

Aid agencies are warning of the risk of starvation and disease. David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme said 14 million people – one-third of the Afghan population – are facing food insecurity.

“There’s a perfect storm coming because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by COVID,” Beasley, said, calling for the international community to donate $200m in food aid.

As thousands flee Afghanistan, some refugees want to go back

From trucks stuffed with carpets, bedding, clothes and even goats, around 200 Afghan refugees look beyond the horizon toward Spin Boldak in their country’s south, waiting to return home from Pakistan.

“We emigrated from Afghanistan during bombing and hardships, when Muslims were in trouble, now, praise be to Allah, the situation is normal, so we are returning to Afghanistan,” Molavi Shaib told the AFP news agency while waiting at the border.

“People want to return but they are not allowed to cross, we request the Pakistani government to allow us to cross the border because there’s no war, and peace has been established,” Muhammad Nabi said. “We have our household with women and kids waiting – we want them to cross the border.”

The Taliban have set up a checkpoint 5km (3 miles) from the northern gate of the Kabul airport, where the majority of the Afghans hoping to flee the country have been gathered over recent days, he said.

“They are not allowing anybody unless they can prove that they have a US visa, US passport or invitation from either the US or any of the NATO countries,” he said. “We also understand that there is a similar situation at the eastern gate. The Taliban have set up a checkpoint there, preventing people getting through without the requisite documents.”

“The situation is now increasingly fraught and you really feel that around Kabul. There is a sense of increasing panic,” he said.

Afghan refugees arrive in Uganda: foreign ministry

A flight carrying Afghan evacuees fleeing the Taliban takeover of their country has touched down in Uganda where they will be given temporary refuge, government and diplomatic officials say.

“The Government of the Republic of Uganda this morning received Fifty One (51) evacuees from Afghanistan who arrived aboard a privately chartered flight at the Entebbe International Airport,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said it followed a request from the US government to temporarily host “at-risk” Afghan nationals and others who are in transit to the United States and other destinations worldwide.

Nearly all UK citizens without dual nationality evacuated: Raab

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says that almost all British citizens without dual nationality had been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Afghan Paralympians evacuated and safe: IPC

Afghanistan’s two Paralympic athletes have been safely evacuated from the country, the International Paralympic Committee says, declining to specify their destination.

The two taekwondo athletes, Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli, were originally due to represent their country at the Tokyo Paralympics. But with the swift fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, they were among the tens of thousands trapped and unable to leave the country.

IPC spokesman Craig Spence said the two would not be competing at the Games, and their focus at the moment was on their wellbeing.

WFP calls for urgent aid as millions of Afghans face starvation

Millions of Afghans face the risk of starvation and a “catastrophe on top of a catastrophe” the head of the UN World Food Programme has warned, saying the agency needs $200m by the end of the year to continue its operations in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover.

Is Afghanistan-made methamphetamine about to flood Europe?

Afghanistan is already the world’s largest supplier of opium. But opium, which is used to make heroin, is not the only illegal drug produced by the war-torn nation.

Over the past four years, Afghans have also been getting better at making methamphetamine, known colloquially as speed, crystal or meth.

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