Saturday, August 14, 2021

James Cox

A small number of Irish citizens currently in Afghanistan have been urged to contact the Irish embassy in Abu Dhabi for consular assistance as the Taliban continues to capture large swathes of the country.

The department is advising any Irish people in the country to leave immediately as the Taliban advance continues.

“A small number of the Irish citizens in Afghanistan are registered with the Embassy of Ireland in Abu Dhabi, which provides consular assistance in Afghanistan,” said a spokeswoman.

“If you are currently in Afghanistan, you are advised to leave as soon as possible by commercial means due to the worsening security situation. Irish citizens in Afghanistan should contact the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi to confirm their departure plans.

“There are limits to the assistance the Department of Foreign Affairs can provide in a crisis and you should not rely on the Department of Foreign Affairs being able to evacuate you from Afghanistan in an emergency.

“We cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to offer consular assistance should you decide to remain there.

“If you consider your presence in Afghanistan to be absolutely essential, you should have adequate and continuous professional security arrangements and ensure they are regularly reviewed, adhere to public health advice, and we would strongly advise that you make contact with the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi if you have not already done so.”

Taliban militants are seen inside the Kandahar city, southern Afghanistan, Aug. 13th, 2021. (Str/Xinhua)

The department said it is “gravely concerned” at the speed of the Taliban’s offensive and the violence being inflicted on the Afghan people.

“As a member of the UN Security Council since January, Ireland has consistently called on the Taliban to end its campaign of violence, and to commit to a permanent ceasefire to prevent further suffering to civilians,” it said.

“Ireland has also joined with the international community in urging the Taliban to re-engage in the Doha peace negotiations. A negotiated political settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government is the only way to secure a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

“The gains made by the Afghan people over the past two decades, including increased respect for human rights, especially for women, children and minorities, must be protected.”

The Taliban seized two more provinces and approached the outskirts of Afghanistan’s capital while also launching a multi-pronged assault on a major northern city defended by former warlords, Afghan officials said.

The Taliban is now just 65 kilometres from Kabul.

The insurgents have captured much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan in a breakneck offensive less than three weeks before the United States is set to withdraw its last troops, raising fears of a full militant takeover or another Afghan civil war.

The Taliban captured all of Logar province, just south of the capital, Kabul, and detained local officials, said Hoda Ahmadi, a politician from the province.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani delivered a televised speech on Saturday, his first public appearance since the recent Taliban gains, in which he vowed not to give up the “achievements” of the 20 years since the US toppled the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks.

The US has continued holding peace talks between the government and the Taliban in Qatar this week, and the international community has warned that a Taliban government brought about by force will not be accepted.

But the insurgents would appear to have little interest in making concessions as they rack up victories on the battlefield.

An Afghan special force member attends a military operation against Taliban fighters in Kandak Anayat village of Kunduz city.  (Photo by Ajmal Kakar/Xinhua)

“We have started consultations, inside the government with elders and political leaders, representatives of different levels of the community as well as our international allies,” Mr Ghani said.

“Soon the results will be shared with you,” he added, without elaborating further.

The president had flown to Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday to rally the city’s defences, meeting with several militia commanders, including Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor, who command thousands of fighters.

They remain allied with the government, but during previous rounds of fighting in Afghanistan, warlords have been known to switch sides for their own survival.

Ismail Khan, a powerful former warlord who had tried to defend Herat, was captured by the Taliban when the insurgents seized the western city after two weeks of heavy fighting. — Additional reporting from Press Association 

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