Many people in west London with family members trying to get out of Afghanistan are seeking advice and information from a local organization set up to support Afghan and Central Asian refugees 20 years ago, the same year a U.S.-led international force drove the Taliban from power after the 9/11 attacks.
Shah Hamdam, 52, said he would do anything to get his sister, a television journalist, out of Kabul, now that the Taliban are back in control of Afghanistan.
``She is begging,'' Hamdam said. ``She says, `Find a solution, find a way for me to get out of this situation at the moment.' I try, I try, I knock every door to find a way to bring her over if possible.''
Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi, founder and director of the Afghanistan & Central Asian Association, left Afghanistan with his young family when the Taliban were in charge in 1999. He said his organization has received hundreds of emotional telephone calls in recent days from people in Afghanistan, including vacationing British Afghans caught up in the sudden and chaotic turn of events.
``Those people will face a serious humiliation, persecution and torture by the Taliban just because they were working with Western organizations,'' Nasimi said.
Two small German military helicopters that were sent to Kabul in a move coordinated with the United States had been assembled and were ready for action on Saturday, German officials said.
The idea is for them to be used in Kabul if individual evacuees need to be picked up by helicopter and brought to the airport. But Germany's top military commander, Gen. Eberhard Zorn, said ``there is no concrete plan yet for their deployment.''
Zorn said the situation remains difficult at the gates of the airport in the Afghan capital. The number of people German planes have taken out has varied.
A German flight arrived in Tashkent on Friday night with 172 evacuees on board, but two subsequent flights _ also with an Airbus A400M _ carried out only seven and eight people.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Germany so far has evacuated nearly 2,000 people. ``The situation is difficult, but with our capabilities and everything that comes up on the ground, we will keep on taking out as many as possible,'' she said.
France's says it has evacuated over 570 people, including at least 407 Afghan citizens, from Kabul onboard its military aircraft since Monday.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry added that a fourth evacuation plane landed Friday evening in Paris, carrying 4 French citizens and 99 Afghans, mostly people who worked with the French government or French groups in Afghanistan.
Italy says its military has evacuated nearly 1,000 Afghan citizens out of Kabul over the last five days.
The Defense Ministry said that two flights carrying 207 Afghans arrived Saturday in Rome from Kuwait, which Italy is using as a staging ground for the Kabul evacuations.
Italy has deployed more than 1,500 servicemen and women to operate an airbridge from Kabul to Kuwait aboard four C130J aircraft, and to ferry evacuees to safety in Italy aboard four KC767s.
Italy began what it has dubbed Operation Aquila Omnia in June, bringing to safety 1,532 Afghan citizens to date. Eighty, including 33 women, arrived on Saturday at a base in South Tyrol, northern Italy, for a 10-day COVID quarantine.
In a video distributed by the ministry, an Afghan man who was brought to the base thanked ``the Italian armed forces, who didn't leave us alone in Afghanistan. With all the difficulty, they brought us away.'' Speaking with his back to the camera, he said the journey took two days. ``We are tired. We are happy. We are now in a safe country,'' he said, expressing also hope that one day ``if Afghanistan becomes safe, we can return to our country.''
Romania's foreign ministry says that a military aircraft has evacuated 14 Romanian citizens and four Bulgarians from Kabul airport to Islamabad.
It said in a statement Friday evening that another Romanian citizen, a United Nations employee, could not reach Kabul airport because of security issues, adding that it will look to partner states to identify possible evacuation options.
Authorities said the evacuees were assisted on arrival by Romanian Embassy staff in Pakistan. It was Romania's third evacuation flight this week using a C-130 Hercules military aircraft.
The ministry also said that it has ‘validated and contacted’ a number of Afghan citizens who collaborated with its troops during their mission in Afghanistan who have expressed a wish to be evacuated to Romania.
But the ‘extremely difficult’ security situation around Kabul airport meant that none of the Afghan citizens could reach the airport. ‘In their case,’ the ministry said. (We) will continue to act to identify evacuation options.
The kingdom of Bahrain has said it is ‘allowing flights to make use of Bahrain's transit facilities’ amid the evacuations of Afghanistan.
The kingdom made the announcement in a statement released early Saturday.
Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf off Saudi Arabia, is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
The announcement comes as the U.S. faced issues Friday with its facilities at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar filling up with those fleeing the Taliban takeover of the country.
The kingdom also said it is hoping that ‘all parties will commit to stabilizing the internal situation and to protecting the lives of civilians and the rule of law’.
Senior U.S. military officials say that the processing of passengers inside the Kabul airport has begun, but that there is a considerable backlog of people waiting to fly to Qatar.
Gates to the Hamid Karzai International Airport were closed overnight due to overcrowding in the area, and processing began Saturday morning. It would be roughly 5 to 9 hours before the backlog clears and more people could be allowed in through the gates.
The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss ongoing military operations.