La canciller alemana Angela Merkel camina hacia la Cancillería acompañada de sus guardaespaldas, el miércoles 13 de mayo de 2020. (Michael Kappeler/dpa vía AP)

 

  • Indonesia moves Afghan diplomatic mission to Pakistan, evacuates dozens
  • Uzbekistan accepts 400 more refugees from Afghanistan 
  • Swiss postpone evacuation flight 

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday conceded that the Afghan army’s resistance against Taliban militants had been misjudged.

“The army collapsed at a breathtaking pace,” Merkel said at an election event. “We had expected the resistance to be stronger.”

Merkel said the focus now was on rescuing people from Afghanistan, but later there would need to be a discussion on what had or had not been achieved.

The Taliban took over the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday after a lightning advance across the country which took the West by surprise.

 

Indonesia

Indonesia has moved its Afghanistan diplomatic mission from Kabul to Pakistan, its foreign minister said on Saturday, after its air force evacuated dozens in the wake of the Taliban’s seizure of power.

“Temporarily, the diplomatic mission in Kabul will be done from Islamabad,” Retno Marsudi said in televised remarks at the Halim military airport in Jakarta.

The initial plan had been to “continue our diplomatic mission in Kabul with a small team” but changed due to a “new development”, which she did not specify. She did not take questions.

The Kabul airport has been the site of chaos in recent days, with thousands of desperate Afghans trying to flee as they clutched papers, children and belongings, as people from other countries also sought to leave after U.S. and other foreign troops withdrew.

At least 12 people have been killed since the Islamist insurgents took the capital on Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

Retno called for a “an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned inclusive political process” that will bring peace and stability in the country, and for women’s rights to be upheld.

Four Indonesian diplomats in the Pakistan-based mission will assess the situation in Afghanistan daily to determine next steps, she said.

An operation for Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, to fly home 26 of its nationals, including embassy staff and children, took longer than anticipated due to the situation at the Kabul airport, she said. 

Indonesia also picked up five Filipinos at the request of their government and two Afghan nationals, Retno said.

Uzbekistan 

Uzbekistan has accepted about 400 more refugees from Afghanistan and put them up in temporary accommodation near the Afghan border, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

It is unclear how many Afghans have crossed into the former Soviet republic as Taliban insurgents overran Afghanistan. The Tashkent government has denied that senior Afghan figures such as ethnic Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dustum were among them.

However, approximately 650 Afghan officers from units commanded by Dustum were already at the same health centre, TASS cited the source as saying.

Uzbekistan said on Friday that it had sent 150 Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan as per an agreement with the Taliban and after requests from the refugees themselves.

Switzerland

Switzerland has postponed a charter flight to Uzbekistan aimed at helping the evacuation effort from neighbouring Afghanistan, its foreign ministry said on Saturday, citing worsening security that has hindered access on the ground to Kabul airport.

“The security situation around Kabul airport has worsened significantly in the last hours. A large number of people in front of the airport and sometimes violent confrontations are hindering access to the airport in Kabul,” the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said in a statement.

Thousands of foreigners and Afghans working for embassies and international aid groups have been evacuated from Kabul airport since Taliban insurgents entered the capital a week ago. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that about 13,000 people have been evacuated on U.S. military aircraft since Aug. 14.

Switzerland said on Friday it had organised a charter flight to Uzbekistan to back up the evacuation of people from Afghanistan. 

“Only a small number of people can currently be flown from Kabul to Tashkent. Since there is no need for evacuations from Tashkent at the moment, the FDFA has postponed the charter flight to the capital of Uzbekistan that was scheduled for today,” the FDFA said in its statement on Saturday.

Germany has also cancelled evacuation flights scheduled for Saturday and other countries are having increasing difficulties in getting their citizens and local employees out of Afghanistan, the ministry said.

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