Monday, Dec 05, 2022

Afghanistan Crisis: These Countries Have Temporarily Closed Their Embassies; Check List

Afghanistan Crisis: These Countries Have Temporarily Closed Their Embassies; Check List

After US Saudi embassy evacuated; while N Zealand Czech sends plane for its staff and S Korea shuts its embassy temporarily. Kabul

Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan. AP

Saudi Arabia said all staff were evacuated from the embassy in Kabul on Sunday due to the changing conditions on the ground, joining other countries that have also shuttered their embassies as the Taliban advance on the Afghan capital.

New Zealand's government says its sending a C-130 Hercules military transport plane to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation of 53 New Zealanders and dozens of Afghanis and their immediate families who helped New Zealand troops when they were stationed there.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they had so far identified 37 Afghanis who had helped, but the number of evacuees would be in the hundreds once dependents and others were included.

Defence officials say they have planned for a monthlong mission involving at least 40 military personnel tasked with servicing and protecting the plane. Ardern asked that the Taliban allow people to leave peaceably: “The whole world is watching,” she said.

South Korea''s Foreign Ministry said it has “temporarily closed” its embassy in Kabul and evacuated most of its staff to an unspecified third country in the Middle East.

The ministry said a few diplomats, including Ambassador Choi Taeho, remain at a safe location in Afghanistan to support the evacuation of a South Korean national in the country and that the Seoul government is closely working with the United States and other countries to ensure their safe evacuation.

Afghanistan has been on South Korea''s travel ban list since 2007. There were reportedly around five South Koreans living in Afghanistan before the Seoul government in June called for all of them to leave the country within 10 days as the United States and NATO proceeded with troop pullouts.

The first Czech evacuation flight has taken off from Kabul's international airport and landed in Prague.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said 46 people were on board Monday's flight.

They included Czech nationals, the Afghan staffers at the Czech embassy and Afghan interpreters who helped the Czech armed forces during NATO missions together with their families.

Babis didn't immediately provide more details. It's not clear how many such flights will follow.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek tweeted that given the deteriorating situation at Kabul's airport, it was “a miracle” that the Czech flight managed to take off.

Local media reported that thousands of people were gathered at the Kabul airport to leave the country.

In an earlier joint statement, the U.S. Pentagon and State Department said the American military would take over air-traffic control at the airport.

US has already closed its embassy in the war-ravaged country.