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Afghanistan: International community must act decisively to avert further tragedy

Responding to the collapse of the Afghan government following the seizure of power by the Taliban and the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport as thousands of people attempt to leave the country, Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“What we are witnessing in Afghanistan is a tragedy that should have been foreseen and averted. It will only be compounded further without swift and decisive action from the international community. Thousands of Afghans at serious risk of Taliban reprisals – from academics and journalists to civil society activists and women human rights defenders – are in danger of being abandoned to a deeply uncertain future.

“Foreign governments must take every necessary measure to ensure the safe passage out of Afghanistan for all those at risk of being targeted by the Taliban. This includes expediting visas, delivering support for evacuations from Kabul airport, providing relocation and resettlement, and suspending all deportations and forced returns. We urge the US to provide continued security at the airport while evacuations are ongoing.

What we are witnessing in Afghanistan is a tragedy that should have been foreseen and averted 

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

“As Afghanistan’s people face up to a stark new reality, the UN Security Council must also adopt an emergency resolution calling on the Taliban – who now effectively control the country – to respect international human rights law, protect civilians, and end reprisal attacks, as negotiations on transitional arrangements continue.”

Background

Thousands of Afghans fearing a return to Taliban rule are trying to flee the country via Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Videos circulating on social media have showed hundreds of people racing across the tarmac as U.S. soldiers fired warning shots in the air; a crowd pushing and shoving its way up a staircase trying to board a plane; and dozens clinging to the sides of planes attempting to take off.

According to a statement by the airport authority, all commercial flights have been suspended. Kabul airport was overwhelmed on Sunday night, with more than 2,000 people hoping to board commercial flights leaving the country according to media reports.

At least five people have reportedly been killed in Kabul airport as hundreds of people tried to forcibly enter planes. It is not clear whether the victims were killed by gunshots or in a stampede. US troops are currently in charge of the airport and overseeing ongoing efforts to evacuate US nationals.