AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates: People walk on the tarmac as they disembark from an Airbus A400M military transport aircraft at the French military air base 104 of Al Dhafra, near Abu Dhabi, after being evacuated from Kabul as part of the operation “Apagan”. — AFP

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates has helped evacuate 28,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taleban takeover of Kabul, a senior Emirati official said yesterday. The UAE and Qatar have been instrumental staging posts for evacuation flights for Western countries’ citizens as well as Afghan interpreters, journalists and others. Western countries including Britain, France and the US are scrambling to get the last of their citizens and protected Afghans out while Poland and the Netherlands are wrapping up their operations.

Of the headline 28,000 to have passed through the Emirates, some 12,000 were evacuated by Britain, and 9,000 by the US. Prior to the fall of Kabul, the UAE had helped evacuate 8,500 others although the official, who declined to be named, did not specify when these evacuations started. Speaking to journalists in Abu Dhabi, the official said his country is currently hosting 8,500 evacuees on a temporary basis with most expected to head to the United States in the coming days. Others had been hospitalized and were receiving medical care.

Abu Dhabi is not coordinating any evacuations with the Taleban, the official said, but convoys to the airport were guaranteed through the US-although security conditions on the ground were a concern. Abu Dhabi expects the operation will conclude by the end of the month, the official said, coinciding with the August 31 deadline set by US President Joe Biden. – AFP