Canada evacuates another 106 Afghans as military navigates a 'tenuous, chaotic' situation in Kabul

·2 min read
A U.S. soldier shoots his pistol in the air while standing guard behind barbed wire as Afghans hoping to flee the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on Friday,   (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
A U.S. soldier shoots his pistol in the air while standing guard behind barbed wire as Afghans hoping to flee the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on Friday, (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

The latest Canadian military flight out of Kabul was carrying 106 vulnerable Afghans bound for resettlement in Canada, the federal government confirmed Saturday.

The flight departed Afghanistan on Aug. 20 and was also carrying an unspecified number of allied service members.

The Canadian Armed Forces have now operated two rescue flights out of Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control of the country last weekend.

During a media briefing Saturday morning, senior officials provided few new details about the mission, which is taking place amid what has been described as a "tenuous, chaotic and desperate" situation.

The boundary between the airport and Kabul, which is under control of the Taliban, was repeatedly identified as the primary challenge impeding the mission.

There have been numerous reports of shootings and stampedes among the crowds outside the airport gates.

The airport is essentially the last place in Afghanistan considered secure from the Taliban.

The government has said it will continue the rescue and resettlement mission as long as the airport remains under allied control. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said it will be "almost impossible" to rescue everyone eligible for resettlement.

The government has identified about 6,000 people eligible for resettlement who are currently in Afghanistan. It said today that it has processed about half of those applications.

Canada expects to resettle a total of about 20,000 vulnerable Afghans, which includes vulnerable Afghan nationals outside the country.

Why Canadian flights are carrying fewer passengers than others

A senior official said the Canadian military flights leaving Kabul are being loaded to capacity, although the Canadian planes are carrying fewer passengers than some aircraft operated by the U.S. military.

An official said Canadian planes are not refuelling at the Kabul airport, which means they have to land and take off with more fuel in their tanks, limiting the number of people the planes are able to carry.

"They're landing heavy and taking off heavy," the official said.

Other allied flights have been able to carry more passengers because they can refuel in mid-air after taking off from Kabul, or because they have shorter journeys to their stopover destinations.

Some passengers on Canadian flights are sitting on the floor and are not wearing seatbelts, the official also said.

Afghan refugees boarding planes are no longer required to hold valid passports before leaving the country. Ottawa said that requirement had been imposed by the Afghan government but can now be waived since the government has fallen.

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