AFGHANISTAN – The cliché is set to become emblematic of the current crisis afghanistan. After the fall of Kabul this Sunday and the resumption of power by the Taliban, 20 years after being driven out, thousands of people are trying to flee the country at all costs. The capital’s airport was the scene of scenes of chaos, described in particular as “shame for the West” by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Among the images of these scenes of distress, a clicha was particularly circulated. Obtained by the specialized information site Defense One, it shows a US Air Force plane, a C-17 Globemaster III, filled with 640 refugees, all huddled together, and seeking to secure themselves with the straps. This is almost five times the initial capacity of the device.
As an official at the specialized site clarified, it was not expected that the plane would take so many people on board, but the pilot still made the decision to take off. Afghan refugees landed on Sunday at a base of the Qatar.
“The unusually high number of passengers on board this aircraft (…) was the result of a dynamic security environment that demanded quick decisions from the crew,” said Karen Roxberry, spokesperson for the US Central Command, the US command center managing operations in the region. “In the end, this made it possible to evacuate these passengers safely from the country”.
Other images, this time taken on the tarmac, also showed hundreds of people attempting to enter military aircraft as they took off.
Faced with the chaos, all flights, civil and military, had been suspended for several hours on Sunday, before resuming in the evening.
Asked by AFP, several American soldiers criticized the State Department, which has the sole authority to grant visas to former interpreters and other auxiliaries of the American army and their families, for having waited more than two months to initiate the process of issuing immigration visas to Afghans fearing for their lives.
These images of debacles further undermine the highly criticized handling of the situation by the Biden administration. Even mentioning to some a parallel with the evacuation of the American embassy during the fall of Saigon, in Vietnam in 1975.
See also on The HuffPost: After the arrival of the Taliban, the Kabul airport taken by storm