The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered the immediate evacuation of Filipino nationals in Afghanistan following the collapse of its government and the takeover of Taliban forces.
On Monday, August 16, the DFA said 32 Filipinos had been evacuated already and were in Doha, Qatar, waiting for confirmed flights to the Philippines.
In a statement, the DFA said it was making arrangements for the repatriation of Filipinos still left in Kabul.
“The Department and its Foreign Service Posts in the region and beyond are exploring all avenues of cooperation and are closely coordinating with governments and international partners to guarantee their immediate and safe passage,” read the statement.
On Sunday, the DFA has issued alert level 4 or mandatory repatriation and evacuation of Filipinos in Afghanistan.
In a situation bulletin, the DFA said there are an estimated 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan.
“We’re on this; we’re taking out our people with chartered flights; we’re sparing no expense. I am reaching out to our only military ally to watch our back,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in a tweet.
Filipinos are told to contact the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, which has jurisdiction over Afghanistan.
On Sunday, Pope Francis called for dialogue to end the conflict in Afghanistan so that its people can live in peace, security and reciprocal respect.
The pope made the appeal in his noon address as Taliban insurgents entered the capital Kabul and the United States evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
“I join in the unanimous worry about the situation in Afghanistan. I ask you to pray along with me to the God of peace so that the din of weapons ends and that solutions can be found around a table of dialogue,” he said to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square.
“Only this way can the martyred population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their homes and live in peace and security in full reciprocal respect,” he said.
There are very few Christians in Afghanistan, nearly all of them foreigners in embassies or aid workers.
The Taliban entry into the capital caps a lightning advance by the Islamist militants, who were ousted 20 years ago by the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks.
On Monday, Taliban officials said peace prevailed across Afghanistan as the militants declared the war over a day after seizing the capital.
Western nations, meanwhile, scrambled to evacuate their citizens from an increasingly chaotic Kabul airport.
President Ashraf Ghani fled from the country on Sunday as the Islamists entered Kabul virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV.
“Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.”
It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep that ended in Kabul as government forces, trained for years and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away. – with a report from Reuters