Sydney, Australia, Aug 18 (EFE).- Australia has evacuated 26 people from Afghanistan on the first of several flights it will carry out to repatriate some 130 Australians and hundreds of Afghans, the prime minister said on Wednesday.
“This was the first of what will be many flights subject to clearance and weather,” Scott Morrison said in Canberra, reporting that the evacuees, including Australians, Afghans and a foreign official, landed at the nation’s base in United Arab Emirates.
Explaining the low number of evacuees, Morrison said that the operation is complex due to the chaotic situation on the ground, which includes communications difficulties.
“This is not a simple process. It is very difficult for any Australian to imagine the sense of chaos and uncertainty existing right across this country. The breakdown in formal communications, the ability to reach people,” he said.
Australia, which expects to make another flight at the end of the week, has admitted that it will not be able to host all of the more than 800 Afghans who worked for its defense forces during the 20 years of deployment in Afghanistan.
“So disappointing that only 26 people on board the ADF evacuation flight. Every seat should be filled – Afghanistan is in crisis, military planes are the only ones that are leaving,” said Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson on Twitter.
The United Nations’ refugee agency in Canberra added Wednesday it was “important that everything possible is done to make use of all seats available to maximize this window of opportunity to protect lives (…) we urge that there be a generous approach towards all at-risk individuals, for whom evacuation has potential to be truly life-saving.”
Australia made a contribution to the fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11, although this year they withdrew their last troops from Afghanistan, following in the footsteps of the United States and NATO.
The country contributed some 39,000 soldiers and made the largest military contribution outside of NATO. EFE