Australia abandons Afghans who assisted military

Spokesperson says govt has no evacuation plans of its own; critics term decision 'disgraceful'

News Desk July 17, 2021
Afghan security personnel stand guard along a road in Kandahar during fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters. PHOTO: AFP

The Australian government on Saturday said it had no plans to put Afghan nationals, who helped its troops, on evacuation flights being arranged by the US in the next fortnight, SBS News reported.

The US is set to evacuate Afghans who provided assistance to its forces during the 20-year long war. The evacuation, which will send the locals to a third country as they await visa processing, will be carried out before July's end.

But according to a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, the government won't be a party to the flight operation being carried out by the US.

The government spokesperson said there were no evacuation plans given that commercial flights were still running out of Kabul airport.

The move has invited criticism from within the country. John McCarthy, Australia's ambassador to the US from 1995 to 1997, said Australia should avail the opportunity in view of the fact that the logistics had already been worked out by the Americans.

Also read Afghan peace moot postponed after Ghani’s snub

"It would be a very sensible way to go about it - I can't understand why we haven't envisaged that already," he was quoted by the report as saying.

A lawyer who is assisting former interpreters of the country termed the decision "lazy and disgraceful".

Though the number of those being evacuated is unclear, it is said that there are some 70,000 Afghans who would be flown out to nearby Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or even the UAE.

Earlier today, representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban met in Doha for talks, as violence rages in the country with foreign forces almost entirely withdrawn.

The two sides have been meeting on and off for months in the Qatari capital, but the talks have lost momentum as the insurgents have made battlefield gains.


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