The effort to airlift those fleeing Afghanistan out of Kabul will come to an end in the coming days, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with a government source telling that the last Canadian-operated flight out of Kabul airport is anticipated to leave on Thursday.
According to another government source, Canada may only have 24 to 48 hours to get planes in and out of the city. Only a small number of flights are left for Canada’s military, according to the person, who has knowledge of the mission but isn’t permitted to speak publicly about it.
“Yes, this phase will end in the coming days,” Trudeau told reporters today while campaigning. The Globe and Mail was the first to report on the Thursday departure date. The Department of National Defence declined to say “exactly when the civilian airlift will halt for operational security considerations” in a statement issued Wednesday evening.
Earlier in the day, during a press conference, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan refused to say how much time is left. On the ground, he continued, things are moving swiftly. Allies are facing the same deadlines. The evacuation effort is “down to hours now, not weeks,” according to UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have flocked to Kabul’s airport, trying to flee the nation after the Taliban surged to power in recent days.
The government announced earlier this week that Canada’s special forces are operating outside the Kabul airport’s security zone to identify and transport Canadian citizens and qualifying Afghan nationals and their families through the security gates to waiting planes.
Many advocacy groups and people on the ground, on the other hand, have reported difficulties in reaching officials and have chastised the administration for failing to act sooner.
According to one Afghan interpreter who worked for the Canadian military, the Taliban prevented him from boarding a military plane and beat him up. His identity is being protected because he is concerned for his safety and that of his three children and expectant wife.
He believes the military should dispatch buses to accompany families like his to the airport. He believes that it is too late. According to Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, Canada had evacuated more than 2,700 persons from Kabul as of August 24, including Afghan refugees, Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and other foreign nationalities.
Canada has reached an air-bridge deal with other countries that allows passengers heading to Canada to take allied aircraft out of Kabul while Canada responds in kind. Close to 1,000 Afghans have arrived in Canada, according to Mendicino, with over 300 having completed quarantine.
According to the Immigration Minister’s office’s tracking data, which are based on media articles, Canada has evacuated more people from Afghanistan than ten other nations, including Spain, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands.
The airlift has carried 82,300 Afghans, Americans, and others out of the country on a mix of US, international, and private flights, according to the White House. On Wednesday, the United Kingdom said that it has evacuated almost 11,000 people from Afghanistan.
Following a virtual G7 summit, Trudeau announced yesterday that Canada will stay in Afghanistan beyond August 31 to assist in the evacuation of more Canadians and eligible Afghans, as long as the security situation permits.
Later, a PMO spokeswoman stressed that the possibility of Canadian Forces remaining in Kabul beyond the end of the month is contingent on the US military presence being extended and that Canada would not stay in Afghanistan after the US forces left.