24th Sep 2022

EU countries evacuate Kabul amid chaos, panic

  • Western countries are evacuating as Kabul airport remains the only way out of now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan (Photo:

European countries scrambled to evacuate their citizens and Afghan staff from Kabul on Sunday and Monday (16 August) as US troops kept the Afghan capital's airport open - the only way out of the country that has been taken over by Taliban extremists in lightning speed.

Scores of fearful Afghan families rushed to the airport on Sunday evening in the hope of catching a flight out as the Taliban entered the city, while the country's president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

On Monday morning, US troops fired into the air on the airport tarmac in an effort to control the crowd that was storming planes in the hope of getting out. Reportedly three people were killed at the airport.

Around 6,000 US troops have been transported back to Afghanistan to secure the way out via the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The EU has also been trying to find a solution for its Afghan staff facing possible reprisals. The EU cannot give out visas, so it was seeking to convince its 27 member states to offer the Afghan staff and helpers visas.

"The matter is extremely urgent, we take it very seriously and continue to work hard, together with EU member states, on implementing rapid solutions for them and ensuring their safety," an EU spokesman was quoted as saying by AFP.

Germany, France, and the Netherlands were among countries moving diplomatic staff to the airport ahead of evacuations and to help their own nationals and Afghans to find a way out. Paris has also set up a mission at the airport.

Britain, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain have announced the evacuation of embassy personnel.

Denmark, Norway, and Finland are temporarily shutting their Kabul embassies.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš said on Sunday that a plane carrying 46 Czechs and local colleagues, and their families, had left Kabul and was headed for Prague.

Spain was planning to send two planes to Dubai on Monday as part of evacuating embassy staff and Afghan workers and their families, as well as EU personnel.

"We will support the EU and its foreign service for an orderly departure of European and local personnel. We will not leave anyone behind," said Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba also said Kyiv was helping EU countries with evacuations.

Albania and Kosovo both said Sunday they had accepted a request from Washington to temporarily bring in Afghan refugees, Reuters reported.

While the US has shut down its embassy, lowering its flag at the diplomatic mission, Russia said it did not plan to evacuate its embassy in Kabul.

EU on mute

For their part, top EU officials remained silent, as the Taliban took full control of the country after 20 years of Nato and Western presence.

European Council president Charles Michel tweeted that he was in close contact with Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief.

"Security of EU citizens, staff and their families is priority in short term," he added. "Equally clear that many lessons will need to be drawn," he said without any details.

EU ambassadors dealing with foreign and security issues will hold a video conference on Monday afternoon on the developments.

Around 60 countries issued a statement on Sunday calling for "all parties to respect and facilitate, the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country."

The statement was signed by 25 EU countries, except for Hungary and Bulgaria.

Germany and Netherlands halt returns of Afghans

Last week, six EU countries, including Germany, and the Netherlands, said forced returns must continue despite violence in Afghanistan. Now they have changed their mind. Belgian Greens are also criticising the decision.


Biden's withdrawal and Afghan migration to EU

Afghans in 2020 constituted the second-largest group of asylum seekers arriving in Europe - outlining the necessity to accelerate the reform of the EU migration regime to avoid another crisis.


How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.


Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us