The DFA raised its highest crisis Alert Level 4 over Afghanistan on Sunday night, August 15, “due to the worsening situation in the country.” This alert level is issued “when there is large-scale internal conflict or full-blown external attack.”
Under Alert Level 4, Philippine officials undertake the mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos in the area. According to the DFA, there are an estimated 130 Filipinos living in Afghanistan.
On Monday morning, August 16, the DFA said 32 Filipinos had been evacuated on Sunday night and were already in Doha, Qatar, waiting for confirmed flights back to the Philippines. Another 19 were also set to leave “immediately,” it said.
The DFA gave assurances that its foreign posts “are exploring all avenues of cooperation and are closely coordinating with governments and international partners to guarantee their immediate and safe passage.”
The Philippine embassy in Pakistan, which has jurisdiction over Afghanistan, will oversee the repatriation of Filipinos in the area. It urged any Filipino in distress to reach the embassy through the following details:
- Whatsapp/Viber: +923335244762
- Messenger/Facebook at the following: https://www.facebook.com/atnofficers.islamabadpe or http://facebook.com/OFWHelpPH
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
After rapidly taking towns and cities across Afghanistan, Taliban forces captured Kabul on Sunday, pushing the Western-backed President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country as the presidential palace was seized.
Overnight, the focus was Kabul airport, where hundreds of desperate Afghans seeking to flee the country were waiting for flights, some dragging luggage across runways in the dark.
Many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to past harsh practices in their imposition of Sharia, or Islamic law. During their 1996-2001 rule, women could not work and punishments such as stoning, whipping, and hanging were administered. But militants sought to project a more moderate face, promising to respect women’s rights and protect both foreigners and Afghans.
Kabul had been the last major city the Taliban took after it launched a major offensive months ago to seize control as foreign troops pulled out of the country.
United States President Joe Biden earlier defended the withdrawal of US forces, saying Afghanistan must decide its own future. “An endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,” Biden said on Saturday.
On Monday Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. joined the United Nations in calling for a stop to alleged human rights violations. He also defended the US against criticisms it had failed in its response and “abandoned” the country. – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com