British government signs statement on Afghan safe passage

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Taliban reassure international leaders on travel allowance of Afghans looking to leave.

The British government signed a joint statement Sunday in conjunction with the international community committing itself to ensure the safe passage of Afghan nationals seeking to leave Afghanistan beyond an Aug. 31 deadline.

The statement was published by Downing Street shortly after Taliban officials in Kabul sent reassurances to the international community that those eligible Afghans seeking to leave the country after this week’s deadline will be given safe passage and allowed to leave the crisis-stricken nation.

“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” the statement said.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” it added.

The government will continue issuing travel documents to designated Afghans and will hold the Taliban to account for their statements made and commitments promised. The government also confirmed the statements released by the Taliban.

According to reports on the ground, a number of British citizens remain waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in the hope of being evacuated despite the UK’s evacuation mission — Operation Pitting — having come to an end on Saturday. Video footage on Twitter has shown a number of people waving UK passports and calling for help.

The government has advised those Afghans looking to flee to cross into neighboring countries, but it is unclear how such routes will be taken and if such a journey would be safe for those willing to take it.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is to use a US-chaired meeting with high-level ministers from Turkey, Qatar, NATO and the G7 to make clear the importance of holding the Taliban to account for their statements of safe passage and the upholding of human rights in the country.

Uncertainty and insecurity are rising in Kabul following a terrorist attack Thursday that killed more than a 100 people, including three British nationals and 12 US servicemen. The attack was claimed by the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group’s Afghan affiliate ISIS-K. ​​​​​​​

The US retaliated by ordering drone strikes on Daesh/ISIS targets in Kabul which the US says were planning further attacks. US drone strikes on Sunday, however, are reported to have killed at least three children.