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Warsaw evacuates Poles, Afghans from Kabul

Marcin Obara/PAP

Poland on Thursday continued evacuating Poles as well as Afghans associated with its military contingent in Afghanistan from the country’s Taliban-controlled capital Kabul.

The first flight with 76 Polish and Afghan evacuees landed in Warsaw on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning a LOT Polish Airlines Embraer aircraft brought a group of Poles from Tbilisi in Georgia, where they had arrived earlier from Kabul.

Later on Thursday a Polish deputy foreign minister informed that the last two Poles had left Kabul for Uzbekistan, which is also helping in the evacuations. Marcin Przydacz said that to his ministry’s knowledge there were no more Polish citizens in the country.

“We hope they will reach Poland safely in the next few hours,” Przydacz told a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Later on Thursday Przydacz said on TV that Poland was ready to evacuate up to several hundred people from Afghanistan, but added that it may not be possible to get them all out of the country.

“We will try to remain there long enough to evacuate everyone who is a priority to us,” Przydacz said. He added that next on the evacuation list were Afghans who worked for Poland’s diplomatic mission and military contingent in Afghanistan.

He said that also on the list were persons to be evacuated for humanitarian reasons.

Michal Dworczyk, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Thursday that Poland will continue the evacuation flights for as long as it was necessary. He added that there was currently an air bridge between Kabul and Warsaw, with military planes covering the route from Kabul to Uzbekistan, from where civilian planes carried evacuees to Warsaw.

“We will continue these operations as long as they are necessary, as long as all the people who have assisted the Polish contingent and Polish diplomats are taken out of Afghanistan,” Dworczyk said.

On Thursday morning Pawel Soloch, the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau (BBN), told PAP that the Polish president has authorised the use of a Polish military contingent in Afghanistan to secure evacuations of Poles and other nationals. Soloch said the contingent will consist of up to 100 personnel from August 18 to September 16, 2021.

Soloch said the contingent would not be involved in any combat operations. “Its only task is to cooperate with the forces of other Nato countries during the evacuation operation from the Kabul airport,” he said.

Following the withdrawal of US forces, control over Afghanistan has been taken over by the Taliban.

The last Polish troops returned home from Afghanistan at the end of June. Their arrival brought to an end a 20-year military commitment by Poland to the country, which involved some 33,000 soldiers.

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