At least four planes chartered to evacuate several hundred people who want to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power have not been able to leave the country for days, authorities said, and conflicting versions emerged about why the flights have not been able to take off.
An Afghan official at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif said those who want to board the planes are Afghans, many of whom lack passports or visas, and therefore cannot leave the country. He said they had left the airport while the situation was resolved.
However, Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the group had Americans and that they were on board the planes, but the Taliban did not allow them to take off, in fact. “Holding them hostage.”
It did not indicate where that information came from. At the moment it was not possible to reconcile both versions.
The final days of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan were marked by a harrowing airlift at Kabul airport to evacuate tens of thousands of people – Americans and their allies – who feared what the future held. given the repressive history of the Taliban, especially towards women.
However, when the last American soldiers left on August 30, many of the people who want to leave remained in the country.
The United States promised that it will continue to work with the new Taliban rulers to remove people who want to leave, and the extremist group promised that it will allow anyone with the proper legal documents to leave. But McCaul stated on “Fox News Sunday” on Sunday that US citizens and Afghan interpreters were being kept inside six planes.
“The Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” he said, adding that he is concerned that “they (the Taliban) are going to demand more and more, be it cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.” He offered no further details.
The Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it was about four planes, and people who aspire to travel in them were staying in hotels while authorities worked out whether they could leave the country. or not. The most difficult point, he pointed out, is that many lack the proper papers to travel.
The residents of Mazar-e Sharif also said that the passengers were no longer at the airport. At least 10 families were seen at a local hotel awaiting, they said, a decision on what to do.
None of them had passports or visas, but they indicated that they had worked for companies allied with the armed forces of the United States or Germany. Others were seen in restaurants.
The State Department lacks a reliable way to confirm information about those chartered flights, including how many US citizens may be on board, as it has no personnel on the ground, according to a US official.
But the department will make the Taliban follow through on its promise to allow people to travel freely, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to testify publicly on the matter.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, it has sought to project a different image than it did in the 1990s, the last time it ruled the country and implemented strict controls on society.
Women and girls were denied work and education, men were forced to grow beards, and television and music were banned.
Now the world is waiting to see what the new government will look like, and many Afghans remain skeptical.
In the weeks that have elapsed since taking power, the signals have been mixed: Government employees, including women, have been asked to return to work, but subsequently some women received orders from lower-ranking Taliban. to go home.
Universities and schools were ordered to reopen, but fear has kept students and teachers away.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.