Switzerland postpones Afghanistan evacuation flight due to security concerns

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, on August 18, 2021. Keystone / Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/ Us C

A SWISS charter flight set to go to Uzbekistan on Saturday to help with the evacuation effort from neighbouring Afghanistan has been postponed due to the worsening security in Kabul.

This content was published on August 21, 2021 - 13:20

“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 statementExternal link on Saturday.

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.

Switzerland said on Friday it had organised a charter flight to Uzbekistan to assist with 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 ministry said.

On August 15, the last three staff members from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation were flown out of Kabul. Switzerland is currently focusing its efforts on evacuating around 35 Swiss nationals and around 230 locals who worked on Swiss projects in Afghanistan, together with their relatives.

The FDFA said on Friday that so far 14 Swiss citizens had been able to reach Switzerland, thanks to flights operated by Germany and the US.

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.

On Saturday the United States advised Americans in Afghanistan to avoid travelling to Kabul airport on
Saturday as thousands gathered  trying to flee the country.

The advisory came after Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar arrived in Kabul for talks with other leaders to hammer out a new Afghan government after the Taliban's lightning advance across the country.

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