Italy evacuates staff, Afghan workers from Kabul, France to begin repatriation soon

Italy had one of the largest contingents in Afghanistan before the pullout.

Published: 16th August 2021 01:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2021 03:56 PM   |  A+A-

A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.

A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

KABUL: Italy has evacuated 70 embassy staff and Afghan employees from the capital city of Kabul. The plane was scheduled to arrive in Rome on Monday, August 16, 2021. Video taken at Kabul’s international airport and released by the Italian Defense Ministry shows people walking up a mobile staircase to board the plane in darkness.

The evacuation is part of Italy’s Operation Aquila Omnia (Eagle Ready for Anything) to quickly evacuate Italian diplomatic staff, citizens and Afghan employees and family members.

Italy had one of the largest contingents in Afghanistan before the pullout.

Italian journalist Francesca Mannocchi, who was on the plane, said that it was carrying 20 Afghan embassy employees and their families, including women and children. Prior to the Taliban advance, 228 Afghanis and their families had been transferred to Italy.

Officials declined to give number of how many remained, but Italian media reported over the weekend that some 390 Afghan citizens and their family members were awaiting evacuation.

France said it will evacuate its first nationals and Afghan colleagues from the fallen Afghan capital Kabul to a base in the United Arab Emirates on Monday.

"We are planning to carry out the first rotation between now and the end of this Monday," defence minister Florence Parly said, adding there were several dozen French citizens to be evacuated.

"We have organised at the base we have in the United Arab Emirates the capabilities to receive the first evacuees," Parly said.

These are for French nationals who remain in Kabul but also "people under our protection and who we are going to evacuate", Parly said.

The French base in the UAE "will serve as a military hub to ensure the back and forth between Abu Dhabi and Kabul and then repatriation in France", Parly added.

Diplomatic personnel are included among the dozens of people set to be evacuated, she added.

The priority is to "evacuate (Afghan) personnel who rendered eminent service to our country by helping us daily, and also doing the maximum to provide protection to figures who defended the rights, human rights, journalists, artists, all those who stood for these values that we continue to defend around the world," she said.

The military operation dubbed Apagan involves two French air force transport planes, a C-130 and A400M, which left France late Sunday and early Monday for the Emirates.

(With inputs from agencies)


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