While France, Germany and the Netherlands have begun to repatriate their embassy personnel in Afghanistan, the rescue operation launched by the Spanish Government has already accumulated more than 24 hours late and does not finish forging.

The Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs acknowledge, in a joint statement issued this Tuesday, that they are increasingly “difficult” the conditions for evacuating the staff of the Spanish Embassy in Kabul and their Afghan collaborators, after the city has been left in the hands of the Taliban.

Spain has shipped in the last 24 hours two A400M military aircraft (each one with the capacity to transport 116 passengers), in charge of carrying out the “repatriation of embassy personnel, of the Spaniards who remain in that country, as well as of all those Afghans and their families who have collaborated with our country “, they indicate the official note.

The first of these aircraft took off from the Zaragoza air base on Monday at 10:30 pm (more than 12 hours late than originally planned). The second has done it this Tuesday around 5:00 p.m. Both aircraft have their first destination Dubai, waiting for them to land at Kabul airport.

Near the airport

The crew of both military aircraft is made up of pilots of the Ala 31 of Zaragoza, troops from the Military Civic Cooperation Battalion (CIMIC) of the Air Force and the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA) of the Air Force.

But neither Defense nor Foreign Affairs have been able to specify so far when these planes will be able to travel from Dubai to Kabul to start the evacuation. Military sources indicate that Defense will not take this step until there are full guarantees that the flights can operate safely at the Kabul airport.

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During the last hours, the United States has taken control of the airport terminal and has completely cleared its runway, which on Monday morning was invaded by hundreds of Afghans desperately looking for a way to flee the country . At the moment only military flights operate at the airfield.

For their part, the Taliban control access to the airport: according to the agreements reached with the US, they only allow the exit of US personnel and their allies, but prevent Afghan citizens from leaving the country.

Spanish policemen

This hinders the commitment that the Spanish Government has acquired to evacuate, together with the Embassy staff, the Afghans who work in the diplomatic legation and the translators who have collaborated in recent years with the Spanish troops in the country.

The Spanish policemen -Geos and agents of the Police Intervention Units (IPU) – those in charge of the security of the Embassy remain concentrated from early Monday in a “safe place” near the airport, waiting for the evacuation.

Several of these agents have transmitted to their families that they hope to be able to board “immediately” on the plane back to Spain. But the Spanish authorities are not yet in a position to specify when the two A400M military aircraft remaining in Dubai will land in Kabul.

Military sources indicate that Spain may be doomed to negotiate a deal with the Taliban (as the US has already done) to achieve guarantees that the evacuation can be carried out without any setback.

France and Germany

On the other hand, it is very likely that the two A400M aircraft sent from Zaragoza will be enough to complete the operation, since they must be transferred to Spain about 500 people, including all Embassy personnel, National Police officers, Afghan employees and Army translators.

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Each of these aircraft has a capacity for 116 passengers, a figure that can be increased, with some discomfort, by completely occupying the cargo hold. In any case, the Spanish Government has clarified that it is only the “first phase” of the rescue operation and that it will send as many flights as necessary to complete the evacuation.

But Spain’s difficulties in completing this mission contrast with the diligence that other allied countries are showing. Not only the United States has already managed to operate several flights to repatriate its diplomatic personnel from Kabul.

France has managed to evacuate 45 nationals, Afghan collaborators and their families aboard an Airbus A310 on Tuesday.

For its part, the German government has managed to charter a first evacuation flight, with seven passengers, and has sent a second plane to Kabul to rescue the rest of its diplomatic personnel and collaborators. The Government of the Netherlands has also already sent its second rescue flight to the Afghan capital.

Meanwhile, the rescue operation launched by Spain remains stranded: the two A400M military aircraft remain in Dubai, awaiting instructions to travel to Kabul. The defense and foreign ministries insist that, for the moment, they cannot offer more details for ensure the “safety” of staff who is waiting to be repatriated.


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