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Afghan evacuations gather pace, but crowds remain

Scenes of bittersweet relief are starting to pop up in airports across the world as the mass evacuations from Afghanistan sail into another day. And with it, we’re hearing more stories of how people got out through the chaos, and those they left behind. Taliban fighters here, firing into the air to disperse the crowds.We found Samsama Khuja at an airport in Frankfurt.”We had to force our way through and my little son fell over and we were scared — but we made it. Then an American guy showed goodwill and realized we were totally exhausted. He took the passports and said I need to check if this is authentic. Then he said ‘All good, you may go in’. Others behind us cried and lay on the ground. It was scary.”Her husband, Noor Mohammad was in tears as he told Reuters that he couldn’t get out some of his relatives.The U.S. and its allies are are desperately trying to control the crowds at the airport. At least 17 people were injured there on Wednesday in a stampede at an airport gate, according to a NATO official.A separate Western security official says that the pace of flights is moving rapidly now on military transports, although it’s not clear when civilian flights might resume.It’s also not clear exactly how many Afghans are among the evacuees so far, as countries rush to get their own citizens out as well. On Tuesday the Pentagon said that hundreds of Afghan government forces were assisting the military with security at the airport. But when asked if they, too, would be evacuated, it said it would be up to each individual and that they’d have to go through the visa process.Meanwhile, military officials at the airport have been in contact with the Taliban outside, after the White House earlier this week said it had received reports of people being beaten.The Taliban has agreed to allow civilians safe passage and a NATO official on Wednesday said they had not received reports of violence at the airport.


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