Biden keeps to August 31 deadline for Kabul airlift

US president sticks to withdrawal deadline as Taliban asks Washington to stop urging highly skilled Afghans to leave.

About 16,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, according to the Pentagon, as US troops lead an increasingly desperate effort to airlift thousands more before the Taliban's 'red line' for Western forces to leave the country [File: Stringer/Reuters]
About 16,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, according to the Pentagon, as US troops lead an increasingly desperate effort to airlift thousands more before the Taliban's 'red line' for Western forces to leave the country [File: Stringer/Reuters]

Joe Biden, the president of the United States, has said Washington is on pace to finish evacuations from Afghanistan by August 31, but left open the chance of extending the deadline, saying reaching that goal depends on cooperation from the country’s new Taliban rulers.

“The sooner we can finish, the better,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday. “Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”

US forces have helped evacuate 70,700 people since August 14, he said.

In Kabul, the Taliban said earlier on Tuesday that all foreign evacuations from the country must be completed by August 31.

A spokesman for the group also urged Washington to stop taking “Afghan experts” such as engineers and doctors out of the country.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meanwhile said the Group of Seven nations will not recognize a Taliban government unless it guarantees people can leave the country if they wish, both before and after the August deadline.

This blog is now closed. Below the updates from August 25, as they happened:


Russia to evacuate more than 500 citizens

Russia will use four military transport aircraft to evacuate more than 500 citizens from Afghanistan, the Interfax news agency reported.

“On August 25, by order from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Defence Minister, Army General Sergei Shoigu organised the evacuation by military transport aircraft of over 500 citizens of the Russian Federation, CSTO member states (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and Ukraine from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” Interfax cited the defence ministry as saying.


Afghan all-girl robotics team members land in Mexico

Five members of an all-girl Afghan robotics team have arrived in Mexico, fleeing an uncertain future at home after the recent collapse of the US-backed government and takeover by the Taliban, according to Reuters news agency.

“We give you the warmest welcome to Mexico,” Martha Delgado Undersecretary for Multilateral and Human Rights at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the women as she greeted them during a news conference at Mexico City’s airport on Tuesday night.

The team, made up of girls and women as young as 14, has been heralded for winning international awards for its robots and started work in March on an open-source, low-cost ventilator as the coronavirus pandemic hit the war-torn nation.

Mexico has pledged to aid Afghan women and girls. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter on August 18 that the country had begun “processing of the first refugee applications of Afghan citizens, especially women and girls who have requested it,” with the aid of Guillermo Puente Ordorica, Ambassador of Mexico in Iran.

Other members of the robotics team landed in Qatar in recent days.


South Korea sends military planes to assist Afghan evacuees

South Korean military aircraft are carrying out operations to bring to the country Afghans who aided Seoul’s efforts to help rebuild the war-torn nation, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday quoting the foreign ministry.

Three military planes were sent to Afghanistan and a neighbouring country to “bring to South Korea Afghan workers, who supported our government’s activities in Afghanistan, and their family members,” the ministry said.

Afghans had worked at South Korea’s embassy, hospital and job training centre for years, the ministry said without providing further details.


Japan deploys transport planes to Kabul to evacuate its citizens

Japan is deploying its aircraft to transport Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel who will evacuate Japanese expatriates, local embassy staff and others from Afghanistan, according to NHK news.

Japan’s defence ministry is making final arrangements to dispatch the Boeing 777 on Wednesday at the earliest to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, where the SDF mission will be based.

The government of Japan said it will only airlift evacuees until the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan at the end of August.

One of the three Japanese aircraft has already arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday and the other two are expected to arrive on Wednesday.


World Bank pauses aid to Afghanistan

The World Bank has suspended aid disbursements to Afghanistan, voicing concerns about how the Taliban takeover will affect “the country’s development prospects, especially for women”.

The bank had committed $784m in development funds for Afghanistan in 2021.

“We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation in line with our internal policies and procedures,” a World Bank spokeswoman said.


US Republicans introduce resolution to condemn Biden in Congress

Top Republicans in the US House of Representatives have introduced a resolution condemning what they called President Joe Biden’s “failure to heed the advice of military and intelligence advisors about the speed and nature of the Taliban offensive”.

The measure is unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled chamber, but it demonstrates Biden’s domestic opponents’ push to make the Afghanistan withdrawal politically costly for the president.

The resolution is co-sponsored by the most powerful Republicans in the House – Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.


Biden says US and allies are ‘united’ on Afghanistan

Despite the apparent European reservations about the US withdrawal, President Joe Biden said Washington and its allies are “united” on the approach to Afghanistan.

“We’re going to stand shoulder to shoulder with our closest partners to meet the current challenges that we face in Afghanistan, just as we have for the past 20 years,” Biden said.

“We’re acting in consultation and cooperation with our closest friends and fellow democracies.”

President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan from the White House, August 24, 2021 [Susan Walsh/AP]

Biden non-committal on withdrawal deadline

President Joe Biden said the US is “determined” to finish the evacuation mission, which he predicted will conclude by August 31. But he left the door open for extending the withdrawal deadline.

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

“But the completion by August 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who we’re transporting out with no disruptions to our operation.”

Read more here.


Afghan small business owners in anxious wait over what comes next

In the week since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the nation’s small business economy has been dealt a series of devastating blows.

Most banks remain closed, nearly all ATMs do not dispense cash, government offices largely remain shut, the passport directorate and visa offices are closed, and weddings and other joyous occasions have come to a halt.

Read more here.


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’s World Food Programme (WFP) has warned, saying the agency needs $200m by the end of the year to continue its operations in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover.

WFP Executive Director David Beasley spoke to Al Jazeera on Tuesday while touring a compound in Doha housing more than 500 refugees who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital Kabul on August 15.

Read more here.

World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley speaks during an interview with Reuters in Doha, Qatar, August 24, 2021 [Alexander Cornwell/Reuters]

Evacuations ‘on pace to finish’ by August 31 – Psaki

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden told G7 leaders during a virtual meeting that the evacuation of Americans, third country nationals and Afghan allies is “on pace to finish” by the end of the month.

Biden said conclusion of the US mission in Kabul depends on coordination with the Taliban, “including continued access for evacuees to the airport”.

The US president asked the Pentagon and State Department for “contingency plans” to adjust the withdrawal deadline if needed, Psaki said.

“He also made clear that with each day of operations on the ground, we have added risk to our troops with increasing threats from ISIS-K,” Psaki said in a statement, referring to ISIL’s branch in Afghanistan.


UN resolution on Afghanistan human rights crisis a ‘shameful failure’

The United Nations adopted a weak resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, Amnesty International has said, calling it a “shameful failure” to address human rights crisis in the country.

In a statement, the human rights group said the UN Human Rights Council today had failed the people of Afghanistan for “neglecting to establish an independent mechanism to monitor ongoing crimes under international law and human rights violations and abuses”.

“A robust investigative mechanism – with a mandate to document, collect and preserve evidence of ongoing crimes and human rights violations across Afghanistan – is urgently needed,” Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty said.


Biden’s statement on Afghanistan delayed

US President Joe Biden’s update on the situation in Afghanistan has been delayed till 16:30PM EST (20:30 GMT), Al Jazeera’s White House correspondent Kimberley Halkett reported.

“The reasons for the delay have not been provided, but what we are expecting to hear from Joe Biden is that he is sticking to his August 31 withdrawal date now,” Halkett said from the White House.

She said there was an effort by House Intelligence Committee members to essentially make the case to the White House that the withdrawal date be extended, as the president faced “enormous” pressure from both democrats and republicans to evacuate all those who helped the US mission in Afghanistan.


Moscow to request flights for Afghan students permitted to study in Russia -embassy

The Russian government will request flights out of Afghanistan in September for Afghan students who are planning to study in Russia, the embassy said in a statement.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan could stop hundreds of Afghans from taking up university places in Russia or continuing with classes that have moved online during the coronavirus pandemic, students said last week.


Afghan’s Internally displaced worried about future

The uncertain future of Afghanistan with the Taliban takeover has only added to the worries of internally displaced people in the outskirts of Kabul, Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reported from the capital.

“They came here to escape the horrors of war, but now the fighting is largely done their future does not look any less bleak,” McBride reported from Kabul.

“No one helped us when we came here, we sold the TV and a carpet, and have been economising like eating less, but the money ran out three days ago are not in good shape,” Maryam, an Afghan IDP and widowed mother of six from Takhar province, told Al Jazeera.

McBride said while the Taliban victory has brought a degree of stability, for many IDPs they still had “no clear idea of where to go next”.

Ghulam Hazarat said his family of nine “did not have any money left to go back” and to set up again in their old place.

“If the government can look after us. That’s better,” he added.


G-7 leaders raised concerns about Afghan pullout

European Council President Charles Michel says a number of G-7 leaders raised concerns with U.S. President Joe Biden about the Aug. 31 deadline for getting their nationals and Afghan helpers out of Kabul.
Michel says that “several leaders expressed concerns about the timing of August 31,” during Tuesday’s G-7 summit.

He declined to tell reporters after the meeting what response Biden gave the leaders.

According to an administration official, Biden plans to stick with his deadline for completing the US-led evacuation from Afghanistan, AP news agency reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a virtual G7 meeting, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on August 24, 2021 in Berlin, Germany [Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via Getty Images]

Afghan troops helping US at airport also will be evacuated: Pentagon

The US military will evacuate between 500 and 600 Afghan commandos and army soldiers who have been helping US forces at the airport in Kabul, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

“Any of them that want to leave, and we have to assume that that’s all of them, they will be evacuated,” Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon media briefing.

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of five to six hundred we know Afghan forces are there at the at the airport with us, and actually helping us in the security mission, and they will all be able to come out” when US forces plan to leave at the end of August, Kirby said.


No extension to Aug 31 Kabul evacuation deadline at G7 talks: Merkel

Talks between leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Afghanistan did not lead to an extension of the August 31 deadline for evacuations from Kabul, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

“The conference has not resulted in new dates (on the end of the evacuation mission),” Merkel told reporters after the virtual meeting of leaders.

She added that there were intensive discussions on whether a civilian-operated airport could be used after that deadline and that Germany was ready to work with countries neighboring Afghanistan, such as Pakistan and Iran, to help refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a press conference following a virtual G7 summit on the crisis triggered by Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, at the Chancellery in Berlin, on August 24, 2021 [Markus Schreiber/Pool/AFP]

Biden to stick to August 31 Afghanistan pullout deadline: US media

US President Joe Biden has decided to stick to his August 31 deadline to pull American forces out of Afghanistan, US media reported Tuesday.

Biden made the decision after talks with G7 counterparts and a demand by the Taliban that the United States not extend its stay past the end of this month, CNN, Fox News and other media reported, citing senior US officials.


Not possible to evacuate those who worked with western nations by August 31 deadline: analyst

A former advisor to the US state department says there is “no logistical way” that Afghans, especially those worked with western nations, can be evacuated by August 31.

“Pentagon is reporting that it can get Americans out. But the Americans have stated again and again that we have a commitment to those who have worked with US soldiers,” Richard Ponzio of the Stimson Center told Al Jazeera from Washington DC.

“I agree with the veterans groups in the United States, and of course, NATO allies who have said we need at least a couple more weeks three to four more weeks,” Ponzio added.

Families evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, walk through the terminal before boarding a bus after they arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport, in Chantilly, Va., on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021 [Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

Taliban asks US to stop evacuating skilled Afghans

A Taliban spokesman on Tuesday urged skilled Afghans to stop fleeing the country, and warned that it would not accept any extension of the August 31 deadline for evacuations.

The group said Americans were taking “Afghan experts” such as engineers and doctors out of Afghanistan.

“We ask them to stop this process,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said at a press conference in Kabul.

“This country needs their expertise. They should not be taken to other countries.”

Read more here.


Swiss have evacuated 292 people from Afghanistan

Switzerland has evacuated 292 people from Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said on Tuesday, while Switzerland would examine whether it could help facilitate talks underway between the Taliban and the collapsed US-backed government.

All local workers from the Swiss development office as well as their close family members have been able to leave Kabul or are safe at the capital’s airport, he said.


US military still planning full withdrawal by August 31: Pentagon

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States military is still planning to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by August 31.

“We are absolutely still aiming for the end of the month,” Kirby said at a Pentagon media briefing on Tuesday.“The Taliban have been very clear about what their expectations are,” said Kirby, who declined to describe when the US would have to stop evacuating civilians and begin withdrawing troops to meet the deadline.

The US has thousands of troops at the Kabul airport who are evacuating US citizens, Afghans and other nationals from the city now under Taliban control. “The daily communication with the Taliban commanders is going to have to continue. That is just a hard fact,” Kirby said.


Safety of women our responsibility: Taliban spokesman

Women’s safety and security was the Taliban’s responsibility, the groups spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said at a press conference in Kabul.

“Sometimes our security teams are not well trained enough in dealing with women. So they do encounter problems sometimes for that reason,” he said.

“So we’ve requested that women remain in their homes, until we develop a procedure. They won’t be terminated [from their jobs]. They will continue receiving their salaries, even if they’re not showing up to work.”

Women shop in the Lycee Maryam Bazaar in the Khair Khana neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, August 23, 2021 [Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images]

Russia accuses US of forcing Afghans on Central Asia

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that US forces are “pawning off” Afghans fleeing the Taliban to neighbouring Moscow-allied Central Asia.

During a visit to Hungary, Lavrov said the United States is trying to convince “several Central Asian countries” to take in Afghans who previously worked with US forces in the now Taliban-controlled country.

He alleged that Washington tells the countries the Afghans will only be there temporarily.


Taliban urges Afghans to return home and resume ‘calm everyday lives’

Afghans have been urged to “return to their homes and resume their calm everyday lives” by the Taliban.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group, told a press
conference in Kabul that crowding at the airport was dangerous and
“people could lose their lives.”

People who want to flee the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 24, 2021 [Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency]

Taliban say they have not agreed to US pullout deadline extension

The Taliban said they had not agreed to an extension of the August 31 deadline set by the United States to pull out of Afghanistan and that they wanted all evacuations to end by that date.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the crowds of Afghans thronging Kabul airport seeking a flight out of the country could go home.

“We guarantee their security,” he told a news conference. He also said there was no list of people targeted for reprisals. “We have forgotten everything in the past,” he said.

He said life is returning to normal in the country but chaos at the airport remains a problem. Many Afghans are desperate to flee the Taliban takeover of the country.

Mujahid says he is “not aware” of any meeting between the Taliban and the CIA, but he did not deny that such a meeting took place. An official says the director of the US agency met with the Taliban’s top political leader in Kabul on Monday.


Amnesty calls for UN mechanism to investigate Taliban rights abuses

Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy Director for Southasia at Amnesty International based in Colombo, told Al Jazeera that an Amnesty report which found that the Taliban carried out targeted killings of nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province in July may only be the “tip of the iceberg”.

“We fear that this is just the tip of the iceberg – that there are many other executions, torture, abductions that have not been reported, and the Taliban have cut mobile phone access to many provinces and many regions. And so we are very concerned that this is going to continue, and that many atrocities have not come into the public eye yet,” she said.

Dissanayake said that, despite the Taliban’s assurances that women’s rights and journalistic freedoms would be respected, there have been reports of journalists being intimidated and one journalist has claimed that a family member was killed by the Taliban when they could not locate him.


‘Betrayal’: British Afghans accuse UK of abandoning Afghanistan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is being roundly accused of betraying the Afghan people, with criticism levelled at his administration from across the political spectrum and splashed over national newspapers.

The United Kingdom’s abrupt military withdrawal from Afghanistan has met widespread dismay as deadly chaos unfolds in Taliban-controlled Kabul.

But the most stinging condemnation has come from within the UK’s Afghan diaspora.

Read more here.


Russia ready to mediate alongside China, US, Pakistan

Russia, China, the US and Pakistan are interested in serving as middlemen in resolving the crisis in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

At the same time, he said, Russia opposes the ideas of allowing Afghan refugees to enter the ex-Soviet region of Central Asia – located between Russia and Afghanistan – or having US troops deployed there.


CIA director met Taliban leader Mullah Baradar in Kabul: Report

CIA Director William Burns has met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul, the Washington Post and Associated Press reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed US officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The official told The Associated Press the meeting between Burns and Baradar came on Monday amid ongoing evacuations at Kabul airport.

The Washington Post first reported Burns’ meeting with Baradar. The US official confirmed the report on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.


Anti-Taliban fighters dig in to defend Panjshir Valley

Atop a craggy mountain that has withstood foreign invaders for decades, anti-Taliban fighters set up and test their weapons.

They are members of the National Resistance Front (NRF) – the most prominent Afghan opposition group to emerge since the Taliban captured Kabul nine days ago.

Read more here.

Afghan armed men supporting the Afghan security forces against the Taliban stand with their weapons and Humvee vehicles at Parakh area in Bazarak, Panjshir [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]

Investors’ dilemma: Abandon billions or work with Taliban?

As foreign governments, aid institutions and companies scramble to evacuate staff from Afghanistan, a crucial question is emerging: Should they engage with the ruling Taliban or abandon years of investment in the country and 38 million Afghans?

Read more here.


EU evacuated all staff apart from core airport team: Commission

The EU has evacuated all its staff from Afghanistan, apart from some officials still working at Kabul airport, a spokesperson for the executive European Commission says.

“All the staff who needed to be evacuated have been evacuated,” he told journalists in Brussels. “We still have a core presence at the airport in order to manage what needs to managed, but the staff of the EU delegation and their families have all been evacuated.”


UN agency calls for food aid before winter

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has called for the international community to donate $200m in food aid for Afghanistan so essential supplies can be delivered to remote regions before winter.

“WFP is warning that a humanitarian catastrophe awaits the people of Afghanistan this winter unless the international community makes their lives a priority,” Anthea Webb, WFP deputy regional director for Asia and Pacific, told a UN briefing. “Once the snow sets in it is simply too late.”

Webb said the WFP needs to get supplies through mountain passages before they are blocked by snow. “Any further delay could be deadly,” she said.


Afghan nationals arrive in Pakistan through the border crossing point in Chaman [Stringer/AFP]

Russia’s Putin, India’s Modi discuss Afghanistan in phone call

Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the situation in Afghanistan in a phone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the Kremlin.

The two leaders agreed to establish a permanent channel for bilateral consultations on Afghan developments, it said in a statement.


Pakistan-Afghanistan ODI series postponed until next year

A one-day series between Pakistan and Afghanistan, scheduled for next month in Sri Lanka, has been postponed until 2022 following the Taliban takeover.

The two countries were due to play three ODI matches in early September, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said late on Monday the Afghanistan Cricket Board had requested the series be postponed.

“PCB has accepted ACB’s request to postpone next month’s ODI series due to players’ mental health issues, disruption in flight operations in Kabul, lack of broadcast facilities and increased COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka,” the PCB tweeted. “Both boards will try to reschedule the series in 2022.”

Afghanistan’s national team players at a training session in Kabul [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

Female football players evacuated

Players from Afghanistan women’s national football team have left the country among a group of more than 75 people evacuated on a flight from Kabul.

Global football players’ union FIFPRO thanked the Australian government for making the evacuation of players, team officials and family members possible, with work continuing to help more leave Afghanistan.

“These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid,” the union said in a statement.


WHO only has supplies in Afghanistan for one week: Official

The WHO only has enough supplies in Afghanistan to last for one week, a senior regional official says.

The UN agency was also concerned that the current upheaval could lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections, Ahmed Al-Mandhari told a press briefing.



China says sanctions on Taliban not productive

China says the international community should support chances for positive developments in Afghanistan rather than impose sanctions on the Taliban.

“The international community should encourage and promote the development of the situation in Afghanistan in a positive direction, support peaceful reconstruction, improve the wellbeing of the people and enhance its capacity for independent development,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing.

“Imposing sanctions and pressure at every turn cannot solve the problem and will only be counterproductive,” Wang said.


China: US army must be held accountable for Afghanistan actions

China’s envoy to the UN in Geneva says the US army and the coalition militaries should be held accountable for alleged rights violations they committed in Afghanistan.

“The US, UK, Australia and other countries must be held accountable for the violation of human rights committed by their military in Afghanistan and… this current session should cover this issue,” China’s ambassador Chen Xu told an emergency session of the Human Rights Council on Afghanistan.

“Under the banner of democracy and human rights the US and other countries carry out military interventions in other sovereign states and impose their own model on countries with vastly different history and culture,” he said, adding that this brought “great suffering”.


Members of Joint Forces Headquarters prepare to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the withdrawal [Ben Shread/MoD/Crown Copyright via AP]

Afghans in Indonesia protest Taliban, demand resettlement

Hundreds of Afghan refugees living in Indonesia, mostly members of the Hazara minority, have held a rally, decrying the Taliban takeover and calling for resettlement in third countries.

The protesters took to the streets outside the UN refugee agency’s office in Jakarta, many saying they are extremely worried about their families back home. Banners at Tuesday’s rally read “Afghanistan is not safe” and “Resettle Afghan refugees from Indonesia.”

The protesters dispersed after a few hours as police threatened to arrest them for violating a health state of emergency in Jakarta, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus.


Afghan envoy tells UN millions live in fear under Taliban

A senior Afghan diplomat from the deposed government has called for accountability for Taliban actions, describing an “uncertain and dire” situation where millions fear for their lives amid reports of door-to-door searches.

Addressing an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador Nasir Ahmad Andisha also called for the creation of a broad-based government that includes all of the country’s ethnic groups and female representatives.

Andisha speaks during a special session of the HRC on the situation in Afghanistan [Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

Taliban appoints finance minister, intelligence chief: Pajhwok

The Taliban group has appointed a new finance minister, an intelligence chief, and an interior minister in Afghanistan, according to the Pajhwok news agency.

It said Gul Agha will be the finance minister and Sadr Ibrahim the interior minister. Najibullah will be intelligence chief, while Mullah Shirin will be Kabul’s governor and Hamdullah Nomani the mayor of the capital.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said: “These appointments are… in no way reflecting – at this stage – any potential future government.”


Burqa-clad Afghan women shop at a market area in Kabul [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

One Afghan evacuated to France now in custody: Minister

Five Afghans who were evacuated from Kabul to France were placed under surveillance due to suspected links to the Taliban and one of them is in custody for failing to comply with a stay-at-home order, according to the French interior minister.

“Among those 1,000 Afghans [evacuated], one was supposedly – and I do say supposedly – linked with the Taliban. But he helped a lot, the French army, French citizens, journalists … We put him and his friends under surveillance on their arrival in France to clear up any doubt,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told Franceinfo radio.

“One of those five persons left the place we asked them to stay in, he was taken into custody yesterday, which shows the security services are closely monitoring those individuals”, he added.


A military plane takes off from Hamid Karzai International [Stringer/EPA]

Spain warns it will have to leave people behind

Spain will not be able to rescue all Afghans who served Spanish missions in Afghanistan because of the “dramatic” situation on the ground, Defence Minister Margarita Robles says.

“We will evacuate as many people as possible but there are people who will stay behind for reasons that do not depend on us, but on the situation there,” she said during an interview with news radio Cadena Ser.

“The Taliban are becoming more aggressive, there is gunfire, violence is more obvious,” she said. “The situation… with each passing day it is worse because people are conscious that time is running out.”


People attempt to get into Hamid Karzai International [Stringer/EPA]

Evacuations from Afghanistan in pictures

US troops are leading an increasingly desperate effort to airlift thousands of people out of Kabul after the Taliban warned they would allow foreign forces to carry out evacuations for just one more week.

See the pictures here.


EU to quadruple humanitarian aid for Afghans

The EU will ramp up humanitarian support for Afghans in and around their country to more than 200 million euros ($234m) from more than 50 million euros ($58m), the head of the European Commission says.

“This humanitarian aid will come on top of member states’ contributions to help the people of Afghanistan,” Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter, adding that she would announce the additional support at a G7 summit later in the day.

The aid will be conditional on the respect of human and women’s rights, according to an EU official, who said this would determine how much money would flow into Afghanistan directly or into neighbouring regions.



UN rights chief says has credible reports of Taliban executions

Top UN human rights official Michelle Bachelet says she has received credible reports of serious violations committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, including summary executions of civilians and restrictions on women and on protests against their rule.

Bachelet urged the UN Human Rights Council’s emergency session to set up a mechanism to closely monitor Taliban actions.

“A fundamental red line will be the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls,” she told the Geneva forum.

Bachelet speaks during a special session of the HRC on the situation in Afghanistan [Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

Airbnb houses 20,000 Afghan refugees for free

Airbnb has announced the company will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free.

“To make this happen, we are working closely with Airbnb.org, NGOs, and partners orgs on the ground to support the most pressing needs,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO.


Australia airlifts more than 1,600 people in 17 flights

Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australia has helped evacuate more than 1,600 people in 17 flights since last Wednesday.

“We have achieved this by working very closely with the United States and the United Kingdom, among other nations,” Andrews told Parliament on Tuesday.

The evacuated people include Australian citizens, Afghan nationals who worked for the Australian government during the 20-year conflict and other nationals. The Australian government has not said how many people it planned to evacuate from Afghanistan.


People flee their homes and travel on the Kandahar-Kabul highway [Akhter Gulfam/EPA]

Norway: Evacuation deadline should be extended

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide says the evacuation deadline in Afghanistan should be extended beyond August 31 and that Norway will continue the evacuation as long as possible but it was not certain if all Norwegian citizens would be assisted.

“One of the main concerns is that the airport… The civilian part is closed now, so we are completely dependent on the US military operation being maintained in order to be able to evacuate,” Eriksen Soereide told Norwegian broadcaster TV2

She spoke as a plane with 157 evacuees landed in Oslo. So far Norway has evacuated 374 people.



Pakistan urges ‘inclusive’ deal with Taliban

Pakistan’s foreign minister says an inclusive political settlement is the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan, adding that Pakistan fully supports efforts in that direction.

According to a foreign ministry statement, Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the remarks in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, about Afghanistan.

The statement says Qureshi told Lavrov a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the region and that he informed Lavrov about Pakistan’s outreach to regional countries on challenges arising out of the developments.


British defence secretary: Kabul evacuation extension ‘unlikely’

British defence secretary Ben Wallace says it is “unlikely” the evacuation operation from Kabul airport will be extended past the August 31 deadline.

Wallace told broadcaster Sky News: “Not only because of what the Taliban has said but if you look at the public statements of President Biden I think it is unlikely. … It is definitely worth us all trying, and we will.”


Egypt evacuates more than 40 citizens from Kabul

Egypt has evacuated more than 40 of its citizens from Afghanistan, according to state-run media.

A report by the official MENA news agency said a military plane carrying Egyptian citizens landed in Cairo late on Monday.

The flight brought home 43 evacuees, including Egyptian embassy staff and clerics from Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution. State TV showed footage of the returnees with Egyptian flags after they landed in Cairo.


The satellite image shows large crowds along the eastern edge of Kabul airport [File: Evelyn Hockstein/Maxar Technologies/AFP]

16,000 evacuated from Kabul airport in past 24 hours: Pentagon

About 16,000 people have been evacuated over 24 hours, the Pentagon said on Monday as the US works to complete its airlift by an August 31 deadline.

General Hank Taylor told reporters that 61 military, commercial and charter flights from a number of countries flew out of Hamid Karzai International in the 24 hours to 3am Monday (07:00 GMT).

Of the total, 11,000 were via US military airlift operations, Taylor said.


US House intel panel chair: Evacuation not likely to be done by deadline

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says – after a briefing by intelligence officials – he thinks it is unlikely the evacuation will be completed by an August 31 deadline.

“I think it’s possible but I think it’s very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated,” Schiff said.


British gov’t to discuss criminalising entering Afghanistan: The Telegraph

The British government will discuss proposals to blacklist Afghanistan, which would allow UK authorities to jail British citizens or residents for up to 10 years if they visit it, The Telegraph newspaper reports.

“We’re looking at every option available… about how we proceed in the future,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying. The proposals will be discussed later this week.


Read the August 23 updates here.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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