The city of Kabul, Afghanistan, reflects in the visor of a UH-60 Black Hawk door gunner. Photo courtesy of the US National Archives.
This article was originally published Dec. 4, 2021, by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said several European countries are working on opening up a common site for diplomatic representation in Kabul that would enable their ambassadors to return to Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in August.
Speaking during a visit to Qatar on December 4, Macron told reporters that the move would happen as soon as possible, while stressing that it would not mean recognition of Afghanistan’s new rulers.
Most countries recalled their envoys from Kabul after the Taliban toppled the internationally backed government in Kabul in mid-August.
The United States and the European Union are conditioning recognition of the hard-line Islamist group on it forming an inclusive government and respecting human rights, including those of minorities and women and girls.
Other conditions include the Taliban not allowing the country to become a base for international terrorism and allowing foreign nationals and Afghans who want to leave the country to do so.
The United States and its allies evacuated tens of thousands of foreigners and at-risk Afghans ahead the chaotic end of the U.S.-led military presence in Afghanistan in late August following two decades of war.
But thousands more people want to leave the country, with those who worked closely with Western militaries seen to be in particular danger from Taliban retaliation.
In Doha, Macron thanked Qatar for facilitating the recent evacuation of some 330 people from Kabul to France via the Qatari capital.
A total of 258 Afghans, 11 French, around 60 Dutch nationals, and an unspecified number of people linked to them were on a flight chartered by Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 3.
It said the evacuated Afghans were “particularly threatened because of their engagements, in particular journalists, or their link with France.”
Qatar has long hosted a Taliban political office, and played a significant role both in diplomacy and evacuations at the end of the war in Afghanistan.
Since September 10, France has evacuated some 400 Afghans and 110 French nationals out of Kabul with the help of Qatar, according to the French ministry.
“I thank Qatar for the role it has played since the start of the crisis, and which permitted the organization of several evacuations,” Macron said before heading to Saudi Arabia.
“We are going to continue [evacuations]” the French president added.
France and Qatar jointly operated a humanitarian mission on December 2 to deliver medical equipment, food, and winter supplies to international organizations operating in Afghanistan, the French Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement.
The move comes as Afghanistan has experienced a sharp drop in international aid since the Taliban took control of the country, exacerbating an already severe humanitarian crisis.
In a report published on December 2, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that more than 24 million people in Afghanistan — 65 percent of the country’s population — will require life-saving assistance next year, including around 9 million people expected to be on the brink of famine.
Copyright (c)2021 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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