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Afghanistan: US under pressure over evacuation deadline

Ns News Online Desk:Ns News Online Desk: The US is being pressed by allies to delay its withdrawal from Afghanistan to allow more time for evacuating those who want to flee the country, now that it is run by Taliban militants. US troops controlling Kabul airport – the only one in the country functioning – are scheduled to leave by 31 August.

The UK is hosting a G-7 summit, warning “not everyone will get out”.

The Taliban have warned of consequences if foreign forces remain after the deadline agreed with the US.

Currently 5,800 US troops are on the ground. President Joe Biden is set to decide within the next 24 hours whether to extend their stay, an official told Reuters news agency.

The US has evacuated, and facilitated the evacuation of, approximately 48,000 people since an intense airlift started on 14 August, the White House said.

Others seeking to flee remain crammed in or near the international airport in the capital, Kabul.

Many of the people fleeing, particularly those who worked with foreign forces, live in fear of reprisals from a group that imposed a harsh version of Islamic law when in power from 1996 to 2001.Thousands of people, foreign nationals and Afghans, continue to throng the gates of Kabul airport.

Amidst the crowds, even those with the right permits aren’t able to get through. Some have been waiting there for days, with little shelter or food.

At least 20 have been killed in shootings and stampedes at the airport since last week. More than 10,000 were evacuated on Monday, but time is running out.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the BBC has spoken to people who have been in hiding out of fear they will be killed by the Taliban. They say they don’t have the means to leave.

There are millions who support the insurgent group as well, hoping they will bring an end to the violence.

The Taliban have been holding discussions on forming a government. Markets and workplaces are slowly opening up. But banks are still closed and fewer women are visible on the streets.

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