Another 750 airlifted from Kabul as race to beat deadline tightens

Australia has evacuated another 750 people from chaos in Afghanistan as the United States holds firm on its withdrawal deadline.

Aug 25, 2021, updated Aug 25, 2021
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has made an emotional speech to Parliament about a family member involved in a violent relationship. (Photo:ABC)

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has made an emotional speech to Parliament about a family member involved in a violent relationship. (Photo:ABC)

Four more flights departed Kabul airport overnight, taking the total number of people rescued as part of Australia’s efforts to 2400.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the situation was deteriorating by the hour.

“It’s been a tremendous effort from those people on the ground,” she told 4BC radio on Wednesday.

“It’s in excess of what we’d ever thought we would manage in a week.”

Australians, Afghan visa holders and other people from allied nations were extracted in the latest round of flights.

A third flight of evacuees has landed in Adelaide, taking the total brought from Dubai to Australia after being airlifted out of Kabul to 419.

US President Joe Biden plans to stick to his deadline of next Tuesday to complete evacuations.

Andrews said Australia would continue to lift people out of Kabul for as long as possible.

“The situation there is absolutely diabolical so we will do what we can for as long as we can,” she said.

A migration lawyer and former army officer has warned that Afghans with Australian visas could die if electronic documents continue to be knocked back.

Glenn Kolomeitz, who served in Afghanistan, represents hundreds of Afghans entitled to protection in Australia.

He says people on the ground are being turned away after perilous trips to Kabul’s airport because they don’t have hard copy visas.

“That is going to cost lives,” Kolomeitz told ABC radio.

“These people have made it to the gate, they’re doing everything they’re being asked to do and they’re being turned away at these chaotic gates.”

He said a breakdown in communications within the Department of Foreign Affairs was causing the problem.

“Getting turned away at that critical juncture is just heartbreaking,” the former officer said.

“One of our families got to one of the gates and they were fired at by Taliban.”

Kolomeitz said the mission was entering a critical juncture and urged Defence chief Angus Campbell to order soldiers to let more people through.

“It’s frustrating. This is insane,” he said.

But he said hundreds of people had been evacuated including interpreters, security guards and others who helped Australian forces.

“We do have some good news stories.”

The home affairs minister said Australia would continue to offer people refuge, after the rescue operation ended, through 3000 humanitarian places.

But she conceded no one knew when commercial flights would resume from the Taliban-controlled nation.

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