Afghanistan Crisis: ‘We were flying out of a battlefield’

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Ramin Rahman, News photographer has been recounting to his experience of escaping Afghanistan earlier this week on a packed plane.

Rahman had been working for western media in the country and feared for his life following the Taliban takeover.

“I just felt safe again, at least we are safe: we are in American land,” he told the Leakblast.com about managing to get to the airfield with the help of a German journalist.

He said it felt like there was “no air, no space” for those packed into the crammed flight – but said people were happy to escape the gunshots and unrest outside.

“The whole plane – they were clapping, they were cheering because we were just flying from a battlefield,” he said.

Turkey willing to protect Kabul airport, president says

Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey is still prepared to protect Kabul airport under Taliban rule following the withdrawal of US troops, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Turkey had offered to control and run the airport, which is key to allowing countries to retain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan.

But the swift Taliban takeover has cast doubt on the plan, which was negotiated with US defence officials.

In a TV address on Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey still maintained the intention to operate the airport.

“With the Taliban maintaining control over the country, a new picture appeared before us,” he said.

“Now we are making our plans according to these new realities.”

Erdogan said he was ready to hold talks with Taliban leaders.

“We are open to any co-operation. They [Taliban leaders] have been very sensitive towards relations with Turkey,” Erdogan said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says the first 106 Afghans who’ve worked for the European Union for years have been airlifted out of Afghanistan. However, he said another 300 were still trying to reach the airport, “blocked on the streets of Kabul”.

He told a virtual session of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee there was a moral duty to get them out in the face of the “disaster” unfolding in Afghanistan, and a situation near the airport that remained “very difficult to manage”.

Those who have been evacuated from Afghanistan are arriving in capitals around the world. They are predominantly Afghans who worked for foreign governments in Kabul.

Many are not only leaving behind their country, but in some cases their families as well.

This is just the beginning of what they say will be a long journey to start a new life in a foreign country.

The Leakblast.com Today programme has been hearing from a woman whose teenage sister was able to flee from Afghanistan to Turkey.

The woman, who lives in London, cried as she said she felt powerless to help the 16-year-old.

“She’s saying that as an Afghan woman, she’d rather die than be next to the Taliban,” she said, translating her sister’s words.

“Women and girls are their sex slaves and they can do anything to you and you’re not allowed to complain. There’s no way to have a choice.

“My sister is fighting for her life. It was unsafe for her before the Taliban and now it’s extremely unsafe.”

Former Afghan interpreter Ahmed - not his real name

A former Afghan interpreter for the British Army has begged the UK government to evacuate him and his family from the country.

Ahmed – not his real name – says last week he was finally given permission to come to the UK under the the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) – but the next morning, the Taliban had seized control of the capital, Kabul.

READ ALSO: First Kenyans Expel From Afghanistan

He says he, his wife and child have been left stuck in a “horrible” situation.

“Life has ended for us when Kabul collapsed, we are just left behind in a dark room,” he tells the Leakblast.com.

Security forces patrol Kabul's main airport

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