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Spain plans another Afghan evacuation mission; arrivals 'imminent', but details 'top secret'
11 October 2021 @ 09:53

ANOTHER mission to evacuate Afghans who were unable to escape their home country in August is due to take place in the next few days, confirms Spain's defence minister Margarita Robles, but details are being kept under wraps for safety reasons.

Afghan evacuees queuing at Kabul airport (photo: Ministry of defence)

Two months ago, a total of 2,206 men, women and children were flown to safety from the Afghan capital, Kabul, to the military air base in Torrejón de Ardoz (Greater Madrid region).

Some of them were Spanish citizens based in the Asian country, although most were Afghans desperate to flee the newly-installed Taliban régime.

Women in particular were anxious to get out of the country, fearing a return of the extreme oppression of half the population seen in the run-up to the war in 2001, sparked by 9/11, leading to international troops being based in Afghanistan for the next 20 years.

One of these was Nilofar Bayat, Afghan national women's wheelchair basketball team captain, who was brought safely to Spain with her husband Ramish, captain of the men's team in the sport, both of whom have been offered similar jobs with Basque Country team Bidaideak Bilbao BSR.

They were rescued after Nilofar made an emotional appeal to Spanish reporter Antonio Pampliega.

Another family unit successfully transported to Torrejón de Ardoz was that of a student who spent his exchange year in Madrid and whose father and sister had been government workers for the previous régime, meaning they were likely to be targeted by the Taliban.

Spain's instant response to the political crisis, including evacuating Afghans who had no connection with the country rather than focusing entirely on its own nationals and Afghan citizens linked to them, was highly praised by the European Union as an example of global solidarity.

Figures from the last of the August evacuations showed that, at the time, around 70% of arrivals had applied for asylum in Spain.

The next mission will see a further 200 or so Afghans flown to Spain, this time via neighbouring Pakistan and, if all goes according to plan, should be landing in Torrejón de Ardoz some time this coming week.



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