India evacuates all Kabul embassy staff, foreign minister calls exercise difficult



Union Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that the evacuation of Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon and Kabul Embassy staff was a “difficult and complicated exercise”. The declaration came a few hours after a Indian Air Force Plane brought back staff from the conflict-torn country.

In a tweet, Jaishankar also thanked everyone whose cooperation made the evacuation possible.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan by seizing the country’s capital, Kabul on Sunday, ending a 20-year war. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country. The Taliban had made rapid progress in the country, taking control of key cities amid a withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Airspace over Afghanistan was closed on Monday afternoon after thousands of people fearful of the Taliban regime desperately stormed the airport in an attempt to flee the war-torn country. At least five people were reportedly killed in the chaos at Kabul airport. Some videos showed gruesome footage of at least two people trying to escape Kabul by clinging to a fallen plane after take off.

India sent two planes on Sunday to evacuate its citizens. The first plane with 45 Indian citizens left Kabul the next day, amid the chaos at the airport, NDTV reported. The other staff could not leave because the road to the airport was closed.

Jaishankar spoke to the US Secretary of State on Monday evening Anthony blinken and discussed the need to restore Kabul airport operations. The remaining members, more than 120, including Tandon, landed at Hindon Air Base in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.

After that, the Foreign Ministry said the staff member evacuation exercise was completed in two phases.

The ministry noted that many Indian citizens were still in Afghanistan. “Our immediate priority is to obtain accurate information on all Indian nationals currently in Afghanistan,” the statement said. “They and / or their employers are urged to urgently share relevant details with the MEA Afghanistan special cell.”

Details can be shared on phone numbers + 91-11-49016783, + 91-11-49016784, + 91-11-49016785, on WhatsApp number + 91-8010611290, or by email at SituationRoom @ mea.

The ministry added that the main challenge was the closure of Afghan airspace. “The Indian government is committed to ensuring the safe return of all Indian nationals and will put in place flight arrangements once Kabul airport is opened for commercial operations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Jaishankar said 21 Indian citizens have been evacuated to Paris and thanked Jean-Yves Le Drian, the country’s foreign minister, for the help.

On Monday, the Union’s Foreign Ministry said the Indian government would assist members of the Hindu and Sikh communities in Afghanistan who wish to come to India.

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