Evacuations from Afghanistan accelerate; Taliban stand up for rights for women, press

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On August 18, 2021, people await their evacuation from Afghanistan at the airport in Kabul after the breathtaking takeover of the country by the Taliban. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by – / AFP via Getty Images)

– | AFP | Getty Images

Evacuations from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport picked up on Wednesday after a hectic and deadly start to the week as foreigners and Afghans scramble to leave the country now under Taliban control.

Thousands of diplomats and aid workers have been evacuated along with at least several hundred Afghans, according to Western governments, although the exact numbers are still unclear.

According to Reuters, citing an anonymous security officer, more than 2,200 diplomats and other civilian workers have been evacuated on military flights to date, although the nationality of the evacuees has not been confirmed and it is not known whether this number includes the more than 600 Afghans in a U.S. C. -17 plane that brought them to Qatar.

Evacuees populate the interior of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft that is bringing about 640 Afghans to Qatar from Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2021.

Courtesy Defense One | Handout via Reuters

According to the British government, around 1,000 people are brought out of Afghanistan every day. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC on Wednesday: “We are still bringing UK nationals … and the Afghan nationals who are part of our locally busy program.”

Taliban promise rights, amnesty

The missions are carried out while the Taliban tell the world what their leadership should be.

In a somewhat surreal press conference on Tuesday evening, a spokesman for the militant Islamic group, notorious for its brutal executions and suppression of dissidents, women and anyone who violates their ultra-conservative rules, promised rights for women and the press and amnesty for government officials .

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters, “I want to reassure the international community, including the United States, that no one will be harmed. We do not want internal or external enemies.”

He said the Taliban would ensure the safety of anyone who laid down their arms, regardless of their previous affiliation, and allow women to work and go to school, but “within the framework of Islam” – a very vague parameter given the extreme interpretation of the religion for which the group is known.

Meanwhile, reports of human rights abuses by Taliban members have surfaced in other parts of the country in recent weeks, and many Afghans are still desperate to flee the country for fear of retaliation by the Taliban for their role in helping the United States and of the allied forces. Whether the group will stay true to their word is still open.

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