'Window is closing' for Irish citizens to escape Kabul

'Window is closing' for Irish citizens to escape Kabul

UK military personnel helping to evacuate people from Kabul airport. The UK could stop flights out of Afghanistan from Tuesday, and the US has set August 31 as the deadline for removing all its troops. Picture: Ben Shread

The window to get Irish citizens out of Afghanistan is closing, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has warned.

There are still 34 Irish people, including 11 children waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban's takeover.

However, Mr Coveney warned that Irish people stranded in Afghanistan should not travel to Kabul airport until they are instructed to do so by Embassy staff due to security concerns.

"The situation in the airport yesterday was really chaotic and on the outskirts of the airport is very tragic, a number of people were killed in crowds," Mr Coveney said of the crushes which happened as people tried to gain entry to the airport.

'Complicated and difficult' situation

Describing the situation as "complicated and difficult", Mr Coveney said those still waiting to leave include a mixture of Irish citizens who had been working with NGOs or with the UN, and Afghan-Irish citizens who had returned to visit family.

The UK has indicated that it could stop flights out of Afghanistan from Tuesday, while the US has set August 31 as the deadline for having its troops out.

Mr Coveney said on RTÉ radio that officials are working with all countries, including Germany which has already helped evacuate some Irish citizens, but he admitted: "Of course this is a window that is closing".

That is why we want to be sure that we can take advantage of any window of opportunity that is available in the coming days to get those people, and in some cases their dependents, out.

He added that there is a "concern about safety" as "no one really knows what is going to happen" under the new Taliban leadership.

Mr Coveney added that the Department of Justice will prioritise family reunification requests coming from Afghanistan as well as providing almost 200 places through the refugee resettlement programme.

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