Italy’s last evacuation flight to leave Kabul on Friday after deadly attack

Italy's last airlift from Afghanistan will leave 'within hours' with a top NATO envoy on board, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday, a day after an ISIS attack on Kabul airport killed at least 85 people.

Italy's last evacuation flight to leave Kabul on Friday after deadly attack
The belongings of those who were waiting to be evacuated left at the site of the August 26 twin suicide bombing which killed scores of people outside Kabul airport. Photo: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP

The last Italian C-130 transport plane will leave the airport on Friday afternoon and is scheduled to arrive in Rome Saturday morning.

The last diplomats and military – of whom Italy sent 1,500 to help with the airlift – are due to take the last flight as well as some 50 Afghan nationals.

Di Maio said all the Italian nationals who wanted to leave had been evacuated, along with around 4,900 Afghan civilians.

READ ALSO: Italian PM Draghi urges G20 to do ‘all it can’ on Afghan women’s rights

“In the next few hours the last C-130 will leave Kabul airport,” Di Maio told a press conference in Rome with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

On board will be Italian consul Tommaso Claudi, who has been widely praised for his work in assisting evacuees, as well as Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian diplomat serving as NATO’s senior civil representative to Afghanistan.

“Leaving Kabul with a heavy heart. My gratitude to all NATO allies & partners for a massive evacuation effort from Afghanistan despite all challenges,” Pontecorvo tweeted.

“NATO played a key role in getting thousands out and is committed to getting others to safety.”

Afghans and foreign nationals have been racing to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control, with many leaving on evacuation flights organised by western countries.

The huge crowds waiting to be evacuated were the target of twin suicide bombs outside Kabul airport on Thursday. The attack is known to have killed at least 85, including 13 US soldiers.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italy says it has received most Afghan evacuees in EU

Italy said it has taken in the largest number of Afghans fleeing the war-ravaged country following the Taliban takeover, vowing "not to abandon" vulnerable groups after airlift evacuations end.

Italy says it has received most Afghan evacuees in EU
Afghans hoping to leave Afghanistan walk to the main entrance gate of Kabul airport in Kabul on August 28th, 2021, following the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP

Western nations are scrambling to get their citizens out of Kabul airport ahead of an August 31st deadline, along with Afghan nationals flagged as eligible to go.

Italy’s foreign minister said it had evacuated close to 5,000 Afghan citizens in recent days, speaking at Rome’s Fiumicino airport as the last Italian aircraft from Kabul landed with 58 more Afghan citizens on board.

“We are the EU country taking in the biggest number of Afghan evacuees,” Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday.

The US, Britain and Germany are leading in terms of the number of people airlifted out of the country. Around 4,000 Afghans were among the evacuees
taken in by Germany, while Italy has evacuated 4,900 Afghan citizens.

READ ALSO: Germany’s evacuation operation in Afghanistan ends

But Di Maio said it was still hoping to fly more Afghans out with the help of the United Nations, NGOs and other countries after the August 31 deadline.

“There are still so many Afghan nationals waiting to be evacuated, and we can no longer do that with the airlift,” the minister said.

He added that “a second, more difficult phase” of the evacuations process would now commence.

“Our imperative will be not to abandon the Afghan people, not to abandon Afghan women, or young Afghans and all those who over all these years have shown a great desire for evolution, for change,” Di Maio said.

More than 5,000 people remain inside Kabul airport awaiting evacuation, with just days to go before the final pull-out.

About 109,000 people have been flown out of the country since August 14th, the day before the Taliban swept to power, according to the US government.

Twin suicide bombs on Friday claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State scuppered the already chaotic operation, killing scores of civilians and 13 American troops crowded around one of the airport’s main access gates.