After alerting airlines two days ago, Joe Biden’s government said on Sunday (22) that it would use commercial planes to help transport people who have already managed to leave Afghanistan.
According to the Pentagon, 18 planes from companies such as United, American Airlines and Delta will rescue the Afghans and their allies who are now at American bases in countries of the Middle East – the first stop for these people after leaving the ‘Afghanistan.
These flights will not save people in Kabul, due to the difficult conditions of access to the airport for those in the city and also the risk of commercial flights landing there.
The move underscores Washington’s difficulty in retrieving endangered US and Afghan citizens after the Taliban’s rapid takeover, marking the third time the US military has deployed civilian planes.
The Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, as it is called, was first deployed during the Gulf War in 1990 and later during the invasion of Iraq in 2002. It was established in 1952 in the wake of air travel from Berlin after WWII.
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said this was the first step in the program, suggesting that more commercial jets could be activated later. According to him, the Ministry of Defense “does not foresee a great impact for commercial flights of this activation”.
The United States has already evacuated 17,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban took power a week ago, and the country’s bases in the Middle East are threatened with overcrowding.
Evacuees are sent to a dozen countries outside of Afghanistan, including Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.
The limited number of planes is only one of the problems encountered by the evacuation. There are also growing security concerns in Kabul, where some 5,800 troops guard the airport.
The United States and other countries, including Britain, have brought in several thousand troops to administer the rescue of foreigners and vulnerable Afghans, but they have stayed away from areas outside. exterior of Kabul airport.
Last week, the US military used three military helicopters to bring 169 Americans to Kabul airport from a building just 200 meters away. Officials say this type of operation must continue.
In the past 24 hours, around 3,900 people have been evacuated from Kabul on 35 planes from a coalition of commercial airlines, and 3,900 more on 23 US military flights, according to the White House.
In total, some 25,100 people have been evacuated from the country since August 14.