France, Britain to call for 'safe zone' in Kabul to protect humanitarian operations: Macron

President Emmanuel Macron said that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since Aug 17, 2021.
President Emmanuel Macron said that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since Aug 17, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - France and Britain will on Monday (Aug 30) urge the United Nations to work for the creation of a "safe zone" in the Afghan capital Kabul to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

"This is very important. This would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency," Mr Macron said in comments published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Above all, such a safe zone would allow the international community "to maintain pressure on the Taleban", who are now in power in Afghanistan, the French leader added.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - France, Britain, the United States, Russia and China - will meet on Monday to discuss the Afghanistan situation.

Paris and London will take the opportunity to present a draft resolution which "aims to define, under UN control, a 'safe zone' in Kabul, that will allow humanitarian operations to continue", Mr Macron said.

His comments come as international efforts to airlift foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghan nationals out of the country come to an end.

France ended its evacuation efforts last Friday and Britain followed suit on Saturday.

US troops have been scrambling in dangerous and chaotic conditions to complete a massive evacuation operation from the Kabul airport by a Tuesday deadline.

Mr Macron announced on Saturday that discussions had started with the Taleban to protect and repatriate Afghan nationals at risk beyond Tuesday.

Speaking to reports in Iraq, where he was attending a meeting of key regional leaders, Mr Macron added that with help from Qatar, which maintains good relations with the Taleban, there was a possibility of further airlift operations.

He added that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since Aug 17.

In the article published by the French Sunday newspaper, Mr Macron said he envisaged targeted evacuations in future "which would not be carried out at the military airport in Kabul", but perhaps via civil airports in the Afghan capital or from neighbouring countries.

Mr Macron also took aim at the kind of talk going on in some French quarters that stirs fears about the arrival of Afghan refugees in France.

"My role is not to stir up fears among our compatriots, it is to provide solutions to resolve them," the President added, assuring that he aims to manage migratory pressures with "humanity, firmness, with an ability to protect our borders as necessary".