Friday, August 20, 2021

By Dominic McGrath, PA

Aoife MacManus, an Irish woman who managed to escape from Afghanistan, has said she expects to return to Ireland in the coming days.

Ms MacManus originally told the PA news agency on Monday of her concerns as the Taliban captured Kabul and described the worry of her family at home in Meath.

She is now in Islamabad in Pakistan, after leaving the Afghan capital on Thursday, and has said she hopes to leave for Ireland on Sunday or Monday.

Speaking on Friday, Ms MacManus – who had lived in Afghanistan for two years while working in the primary education sector – described how the Taliban ensured she managed to get a safe passage to Kabul Airport.

“I didn’t feel in danger,” she said.

“There’s always going to be moments where things can turn but I felt quite safe in getting to the gate.”

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed that Ms MacManus had left Afghanistan.

She had to wait until dawn for her flight to take off.

Ms MacManus told RTÉ radio: “We had to stay the night. Everybody slept out of exhaustion, but with one eye open hoping things would go well until the morning.

“We took off at dawn, so I watched the sun cover the mountains and watched out the window as we took off over Kabul and took off over the city that I’ve watched as I’ve departed a number of times, but always knowing I’m coming back.

“It was a very strange and heavy feeling to think that so many colleagues that I work with, so many friends, are there and won’t have the opportunity to leave any time soon.

“It’s so different this week than it was when I left for a holiday two months ago.”

On Thursday, Mr Coveney said the number of Irish citizens known to be in Afghanistan and hoping to leave the country was 36 — but three in total had managed to leave the country.

Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

More National News