Afghanistan: Death Toll Rises As Kabul Chaos Grows
The death toll in Afghanistan is increasing as the chaos in Kabul continues, with thousands of Afghans continuing to flock to the airport.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the current death toll in Afghanistan’s capital city in a statement made on Sunday.
The announcement comes after the Hamid Karzai International Airport became a focal point for thousands of people desperately trying to flee the city, which was taken over by the Taliban in a swift occupation last Sunday.
The Ministry of Defence announced that seven people have been killed at Kabul airport due to massive crowds and stampedes, as thousands have been trying to escape the militant group.
Ben Wallace, the secretary of state for defence, previously warned that Afghans would have to make their own way to the borders if the US did not delay plans for withdrawal.
The Ministry of Defence stated:
Our sincere thoughts are with the families of the seven Afghan civilians who have sadly died in crowds in Kabul.
Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible.
Since Sunday, August 15, which saw insurgents take control of the presidential palace, fears have been rising, particularly for Afghan women and children. After the Taliban seized control of the country’s capital, it is reported that despite declaring ‘amnesty’ and encouraging women to join its government, the military group have been targeting women.
There have been reports that the doors of prominent women such as bloggers and activists have been marked with paint, and that female journalists have been taken off air on the majority of television networks.
While the Taliban has vowed that women will be permitted to work and study until university level, during the Taliban’s rule from 1996 until 2001, girls were prevented from receiving an education. Women could also only go out in public if they wore full-body coverings and were escorted by a man. Any woman who went against these rules ran the risk of facing brutal punishment, such as public flogging, stoning, amputations and even execution.
Zarifa Ghafari, a 27-year-old female mayor, has expressed her terror at the situation, saying that she believes that the military group will come and kill her. She added that she is just ‘sitting here waiting for them to come’.
Fears are subsequently growing among Afghan women and girls, some of who have taken to the streets in protest of the Taliban’s return. Innocent Afghans are now left waiting to see if the freedoms gained over the past 20 years will be eradicated and replaced by hardline Islamic fundamentalist law.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the evacuation mission, Operation Pitting, is being supported by 1,000 British troops. Since August 13, nearly 4,000 people have been repatriated from Afghanistan.
However, President Joe Biden has set a 10-day target to evacuate people from the country, which has led to the Secretary of State for Defence saying that ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Wallace stressed how due to the US timetable ‘we have no time to lose to get the majority of the people waiting out’. He questioned whether the Americans will be ‘permitted to stay longer’ and that they would have ‘our complete support’ if they were able to.
However, Wallace noted that ‘processing hubs’ will be established in neighbouring countries to support Afghan refugees who manage to escape. The refugees would then be flown to the UK, if they can establish their right to come.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who remained on holiday when the Taliban were swiftly taking over Afghanistan, is looking to speak to the US Secretary of State to discuss extending the August 31 deadline, according to The Sunday Times.
3,821 British and Afghan nationals have been evacuated so far from Kabul. They said that around 3,500 people are still waiting to be evacuated from the city.
If you’d like to help those who’ve been affected by the recent devastating events unfolding in Afghanistan, you can make a donation to the UN Refugee Agency United Kingdom here.
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