By Pierre Tran – France, Afghanistan, and Evacuation Dynamics
Paris – A third French military flight was due to arrive in the evening of Aug. 19 at Paris Charles De Gaulle airport, bringing in more than 200 evacuees from Afghanistan, the armed forces ministry said.
“The evacuation operations launched on Sunday evening are continuing,” the ministry said in a statement. “A third flight transporting more than 200 people, among them French and a large majority of Afghan nationals will arrive at Roissy-Charle De Gaulle airport in the evening, today.”
A speeded up process of granting visas to foreign nationals had been set up, after the necessary checks and with the aim of ensuring national security, the ministry said. The ministries for defense, foreign affairs, interior, and health aimed to receive the evacuees in the best conditions.
The air force flew the evacuees on a A330 multirole transport tanker (MRTT) to France, after flying them out of Kabul on an A400M transport plane, with a stop over at the Abu Dhabi Al Dhafra airbase.
Flights since Aug. 16 have allowed evacuation of almost 500 French and Afghan nationals, as well as those of partner nations, the foreign ministry said.
The French services launched Aug. 15 the joint operation Apagan to fly evacuees in an emergency air bridge from Kabul to the Abu Dhabi and then on to the French capital.
The Taliban took control of the Afghan capital that Sunday, sparking a rush of Afghans and foreign nationals to the airport urgently seeking flight from the Islamist insurgents.
Special forces flew out on the military flight of a C-130 and an A400M in the evacuation mission, president Emmanuel Macron said Aug. 16 in a televised address to the nation.
The French had to “negotiate” with the Taliban to allow the passage of French and Afghan nationals from the French embassy to the airport – a distance of just a few kilometers, the head of the French RAID special weapons and tactics police unit, Jean-Baptiste Dulion, said on RTL radio on Wednesday night.
A video on social media shows a stream of vehicles leaving the embassy to take the evacuees to be flown out on Tuesday night. France closed down the embassy and the diplomatic staff were working at the airport to get the clearances for evacuees to be flown out.
The second French evacuation flight on an A330 MRTT landed at Charle De Gaulle airport Aug. 18, bringing more than 200 evacuees, including 25 French nationals, the foreign ministry said in a statement. There were nationals of other countries, with a large majority of Afghan nationals, and a “significant number of women and children.”
“Afghans who would like to remain in France in the long term will be supported in practical and administrative ways with their asylum applications,” the ministry said. “They will benefit from specialist support with their residence permit applications and integration processes. They will receive France’s full help.”
The first evacuation flight on an A310 jet on Aug. 17 carried out 41 evacuees, comprising French and foreign nationals. An elite Gurkha unit, which acted as guards to the French embassy, was on that flight, returning home after completing their mission, said David Martinon, the French ambassador, Agence France-Presse reported. (…)
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