SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 28 January 2023, Saturday |

Germany, France raise idea of Kabul evacuations beyond August 31 deadline

Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, said on Monday that Germany is in talks with the United States, Turkey, and the Taliban on how to keep Kabul airport open.

According to Maas, the airport can only be maintained operational until August 31 if security can be ensured.

According to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Afghan evacuations may be required beyond the US deadline of August 31.

“We are concerned about the deadline set by the United States on August 31. Additional time is needed to complete ongoing operations,” Le Drian told journalists while in the UAE. France has set up an air bridge in the Gulf nation for evacuees from Kabul.

The UK is also urging the US to extend the evacuation efforts beyond August 31.

General Eberhard Zorn, Germany’s top military commander, said he estimates 5,000 are awaiting evacuation from the Kabul airport. Zorn said the figure has declined from 7,000 this past weekend.

“We are now trying internationally to reduce this number as far as possible to make room for others and above all, ultimately to cushion somewhat the precarious accommodation and waiting situation there,” Zorn said.

He added, “The situation in front of the gates remains difficult, I would also call it dramatic, because the accumulation of people interested in getting into the airport grounds is enormously high. Additional potential for violence is arising on the ground.”

Zorn was unable to say what proportion of those awaiting evacuation were children or families but that on Germany’s evacuation flights roughly half the passengers were women. On Sunday, Germany flew supplies such as diapers, children’s toys, and baby food into Kabul airport.