Countries are trying to evacuate their citizens and personnel from Afghanistan as thousands of Afghans rush Hamid Karzai airport runway in a bid to catch any flight to flee the country after the Taliban entered the capital.

Afghans crowd at the tarmac of Hamid Karzai International Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan.
Afghans crowd at the tarmac of Hamid Karzai International Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan. (AFP)

Civilian flights have been suspended out of Afghanistan's Kabul airport as countries scramble to relocate foreign citizens and vulnerable Afghans while the Taliban cements control on the country.

Dozens of nations from around the world called on Monday on all involved in the unrest in Afghanistan to respect and facilitate the departure of foreign nationals as well as Afghans who wish to leave the country.

Hamid Karzai International Airport has been in a state of chaos since Sunday night as people desperate to flee Taliban rule made a beeline to terminals in hope of catching an evacuation flight. More than five people died in the rush at the airport on Monday morning with others reportedly falling to their death from planes taking off. 

More than 60 nations released a joint statement on Sunday night citing what they call “the deteriorating security situation” in Afghanistan. 

The statement says that those in power and authority across the country “bear responsibility – and accountability – for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order.”

The nations' statement also says that roads, airports and border crossings must remain open, and that calm must be maintained.

President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday to an undisclosed location, admitting defeat in the 20-year war started by the US after September 11, 2001.

Here is a list of countries trying to evacuate their citizens and personnel in Kabul from the Taliban-held country: 

US

The US completed the evacuation on Sunday night of all remaining personnel from its embassy in Kabul as the Taliban laid claim to the Afghan capital.

"We can confirm that the safe evacuation of all Embassy personnel is now complete," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. "All Embassy personnel are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the US Military.”

President Joe Biden earlier authorised 1,000 additional US troops deployed to the airport to secure the facility amid the US evacuation of diplomatic personnel as well as Afghan nationals seeking refugee status with Washington.

That brings the total US forces who will be there to 6,000. In addition to securing the airport, the troops will also take control of its air traffic control operations.

UK

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says the government is planning to fly out 1,500 more people from Afghanistan over the next two days.

The first flight carrying British nationals has landed in the UK, he said on Monday, as it scrambled to evacuate diplomats, Afghan employees and their families from the chaotic airport in Kabul.

Wallace expressed hope that the government will be able to evacuate around 1,000 people a day, including Afghan nationals who have helped British citizens.

He told the BBC that work is under way to “remove any bureaucratic barriers” to make sure people who pass screenings are able to be flown to the UK.

He said the British government sent more than 600 troops over the weekend to Kabul to help secure the airport and “to effectively process, manage and escort people onto our flights to get them out of Afghanistan.”

Wallace said one of the “biggest regrets” with the speed of the collapse of the Afghan government is that the timetable to remove Afghans and British people from the nation by August 31 had to be shortened.

Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is planning to deploy soldiers to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation of German nationals and Afghans in danger from the Taliban, parliamentary sources said Monday.

The government will seek a mandate from parliament to allow the deployment of as many as "several hundred soldiers", the sources told AFP, citing a briefing by Merkel to leaders of parliamentary groups late on Sunday.

"An 'air bridge' is to be set up from Kabul, to allow the evacuation of local staff, particularly vulnerable women, human rights activists and other employees from non-governmental organisations, for as long as that is possible," said a source.

The government thinks roughly 2,000 people will need evacuating.

Consultations with the US suggest it may be possible to run the evacuation operation until August 31, but Berlin may end the deployment earlier, said the sources.

Germany had already begun ferrying out staff from its embassy on Sunday after moving them to safety at a military section of Kabul airport.
France

Late on Sunday evening, French Ambassador to Kabul David Martinon posted on Twitter a video clip of himself and members of the staff readying for evacuation in a helicopter.

In a statement, the ministry said it will deploy military reinforcements and air assets to the United Arab Emirates to carry out evacuations from Kabul to Abu Dhabi and onwards to Paris.

The embassy and a crisis and support centre will facilitate the evacuation of French and at-risk Afghan nationals.

The ministry said it will continue to issue visas from its mission at the airport to the Afghans from the civil society, rights activists, artists and journalists who are threatened for their commitment.

Since May, nearly 600 at-risk Afghan employees from the French mission, institutions and NGOs have been rehabilitated to France. Under this programme, more than 1,350 former civilian staff and their families working with the French military have been relocated since 2013.

Spain 

Spain also accelerated its plans to evacuate personnel by sending two military planes to Dubai on Monday.

The two A400 planes aim to pick up Spanish citizens who are still in Afghanistan, most of whom work for the embassy, as well as Afghan citizens who have assisted Spain over the years.

The aeroplanes are designed to carry 116 fully equipped troops and land on small and unprepared airstrips, according to manufacturer Airbus.

Phase one of the plan is sending the aeroplanes to Dubai. But the Spanish government has yet to reveal phase two.

Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska told a local broadcaster that embassy staff and security personnel are now at the Kabul airport, which he described as a “safe place for now.”

New Zealand

New Zealand’s government says it is sending a C-130 Hercules military transport plane to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation of 53 New Zealanders and dozens of Afghanis and their immediate families who helped New Zealand troops when they were stationed there.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they had so far identified 37 Afghanis who had helped, but the number of evacuees would be in the hundreds once dependents and others were included.

Defence officials say they have planned for a month-long mission involving at least 40 military personnel tasked with servicing and protecting the plane. Ardern asked that the Taliban allow people to leave peaceably: “The whole world is watching,” she said.

Australia

Australia is sending three transport and air-to-air refuelling jets with 250 military personnel to repatriate more than 130 Australians and their families from Afghanistan, officials said.

Australia is also working to evacuate an undisclosed number of refugees, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

Australia shut its Kabul embassy in May and withdrew the last of its troops from Afghanistan in June.

More than 39,000 Australian military personnel have served in Afghanistan since 2001, and 41 died there.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia says it has evacuated all its diplomats from its embassy in the Afghan capital, and New Zealand's government is sending a plane to help its people leave the country.

Saudi Arabia said all staff were evacuated from the embassy in Kabul on Sunday due to the changing conditions on the ground, joining other countries that have also shuttered their embassies as the Taliban advance on the Afghan capital.

Italy

Italy's has evacuated 70 embassy staff and Afghan employees from the capital city of Kabul.

The plane was scheduled to arrive in Rome on Monday. Video taken at Kabul’s international airport and released by the Italian Defense Ministry shows people walking up a mobile staircase to board the plane in darkness.

The evacuation is part of Italy’s Operation Aquila Omnia (Eagle Ready for Anything) to quickly evacuate Italian diplomatic staff, citizens and Afghan employees and family members.

Italy had one of the largest contingents in Afghanistan before the pullout.

Italian journalist Francesca Mannocchi, who was on the plane, said that it was carrying 20 Afghan embassy employees and their families, including women and children.

Prior to the Taliban advance, 228 Afghanis and their families had been transferred to Italy.

Officials declined to give number of how many remained but Italian media reported over the weekend that some 390 Afghan citizens and their family members were awaiting evacuation.

Portugal

Portugal’s defence minister says his country is prepared to take in 243 Afghans and their families who worked with Portuguese forces stationed in the country.

Defense Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho said NATO is coordinating the evacuation of the Afghans because Portugal doesn’t have the military capacity to do so.

He told public broadcaster RTP late on Sunday he is not aware of any Portuguese citizens living in Afghanistan.

Portugal had a small detachment of fewer than 200 troops stationed at Kabul airport, as part of the NATO mission in the country. The last ones pulled out at the end of May.

Sweden

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Monday that 19 embassy employees had been evacuated from Kabul to Doha, Qatar and they'll eventually be flown to Sweden.

Earlier Monday, Norway and Denmark said that the bulk of the embassy staff was out of Afghanistan.

Norway Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said for the sake of the Norwegians it was done overnight.

Czech Republic

The first Czech evacuation flight has taken off from Kabul’s international airport and landed in Prague.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said 46 people were on board Monday’s flight.

They included Czech nationals, the Afghan staffers at the Czech embassy and Afghan interpreters who helped the Czech armed forces during NATO missions together with their families.

Babis didn’t immediately provide more details. It’s not clear how many such flights will follow.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek tweeted that given the deteriorating situation at Kabul’s airport, it was “a miracle” that the Czech flight managed to take off.