More than 60 countries say Afghans, others must be allowed to leave Afghanistan

Afghans and travelers pass through checkpoints at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul ahead of the Taleban's arrival on Aug 15, 2021.
Afghans and travelers pass through checkpoints at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul ahead of the Taleban's arrival on Aug 15, 2021.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - More than 60 countries issued a joint statement saying Afghans and international citizens who want to leave Afghanistan must be allowed to depart and added that airports and border crossings must remain open, the US State Department said late on Sunday (Aug 15).

The United States government and countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Qatar and Britain said in a joint statement that "those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility - and accountability - for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order".

It added that "the Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them".

The Taleban declared the war in Afghanistan was over after insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul as US-led forces departed and Western nations scrambled on Monday to evacuate thousands of their citizens.

The Pentagon authorised another 1,000 troops to help evacuate US citizens and Afghans who worked for them from Kabul as the US government said it would assume air traffic control to facilitate the departure of thousands of Americans.

A joint statement from the State Department and Pentagon after the Taleban entered the Afghan capital confirmed that the US over the next 48 hours will "have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter "the United States joins the international community in affirming that Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so. Roads, airports, and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained."

Other countries signing the joint statement include Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and Yemen, as well as the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the State Department said.