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Australia to continue Kabul evacuation flights until Taliban deadline

The Morrison Government says Australia will rescue people from Afghanistan for as long as it can before the United States’ deadline expires.

Many countries have sent planes to evacuate nationals and Afghans who have helped them. Photo: Turkish Defense Ministry via AP

Many countries have sent planes to evacuate nationals and Afghans who have helped them. Photo: Turkish Defense Ministry via AP

The Taliban has told the US it must keep the August 31 deadline to withdraw remaining troops, after 20 years in Afghanistan.

Australia has extracted 2650 people from Kabul as part of ongoing efforts to rescue citizens and visa holders.

A flight carrying 89 people from Kabul touched down in Adelaide on Wednesday morning, with all passengers now undergoing 14-days hotel quarantine.

The arrivals from Kabul were not included in SA’s current weekly cap of 265 for the return of Australians from overseas during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says the scenes are “highly distressing” and human rights advocates warn people left behind could die.

More than 400 evacuees have made it to Australian soil since August 18, after being airlifted via Dubai.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australia would continue to get people out of Kabul for as long as possible.

“The situation there is absolutely diabolical so we will do what we can for as long as we can,” she said.

Australia will continue to offer people refuge, after the rescue operation ends, through 3000 humanitarian places.

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Paul Power, head of the Refugee Council of Australia, said the government should open up more places and also urged Pakistan and Iran to keep borders open for people trying to flee persecution in Afghanistan.

“Members of Australia’s Afghan diaspora are hearing directly from family members and friends about terrible violence within the country,” he said.

“There are many reports of executions and forced marriages of young women and girls occurring right now.”

He said permanent protection was needed for the 4300 Afghans on temporary protection visas in Australia, recognising that members of this group were unlikely to be able to return in safety for many years to come.

-AAP

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