Britain, France to propose Kabul safe zone for people trying to flee Afghanistan
French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday that France and Britain would propose a safe zone in Kabul, Afghanistan, that would help protect those who were trying to flee the country amid the chaos following the Taliban’s takeover, Reuters reported.
“Our resolution proposal aims to define a safe zone in Kabul, under U.N. control, which would allow humanitarian operations to continue,” Macron told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, according to Reuters.
An emergency United Nations meeting will convene Monday where the two countries plan to submit their resolution. U.N. ambassadors from the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain will attend the meeting led by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the wire service noted.
France and Britain have both ended their evacuation operations in Afghanistan — the last flight from Britain with departed on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Countries around the world have agreed to step up and assist Afghans who are desperately trying to flee amid new Taliban rule. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, tweeted on Tuesday that the Group of 7 countries’ leaders had discussed different ways to help Afghans.
“We @G7 leaders all agree that it is our moral duty to help the Afghan people & provide as much support as conditions allow. We discussed evacuations, immediate humanitarian aid, longer-term development aid and scenarios for refugees in need of protection,” the European Commission president tweeted.
We @G7 leaders all agree that it is our moral duty to help the Afghan people & provide as much support as conditions allow.
We discussed evacuations, immediate humanitarian aid, longer-term development aid and scenarios for refugees in need of protection. https://t.co/6K1IwDf6mG
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) August 24, 2021
Abroad, countries like Uganda and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to temporarily host evacuees at the request of the United States.
The U.S. is set to finish its own withdrawal of all U.S. troops by a self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline. About 117,500 people, including U.S. citizens and Afghans, have been evacuated by the U.S. since the end of July. Almost 7,000 people left Kabul between Friday and early Saturday.
However, the withdrawal and evacuation processes have been mired by chaos in the country after the Taliban overran the Afghan government. The insurgent group consolidated power in Afghanistan earlier in the month, capturing Kabul on Aug. 15. The takeover has destabilized the region, and thousands of people swarmed the Kabul international airport in an effort to flee the country.
The evacuation effort has increasingly been criticized by lawmakers, some of whom have raised the point that the Aug. 31 deadline should be extended. One Republican staffer told The Hill earlier this month that there were concerns that Afghans would needlessly get left behind in the evacuation efforts.
“They keep saying that we are going to continue to evacuate until Aug. 31. This is an arbitrary and self-imposed deadline,” one Republican staffer told The Hill. “So it’s ridiculous that they are trying to stick to this. We need a commitment from them that they are not going to leave behind the Americans and that they are not going to leave behind the people that Joe Biden personally promised to rescue.”
On Thursday, a suicide bomber believed to be affiliated with ISIS-K detonated an explosive, killing 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans.
Following the attack, President Biden vowed to strike back against ISIS-K, and an attack against the group was announced on Friday by the U.S. Central Command.
But Biden warned on Saturday that he had been briefed that another attack in Afghanistan could happen within the next day or two.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” Biden said in the statement. “Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.
“I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground. They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel,” he added.