A chaotic race to help tens of thousands of people escape Taliban-run Afghanistan was boosted on Monday with the United States ordering its commercial airlines to help, though President Joe Biden flagged the evacuations could go beyond next week’s deadline. The US military has overseen the evacuations of about 30,000 people since the Taliban marched into Kabul and took effective control of Afghanistan on August 15, following a stunningly swift rout of government forces. The Taliban, infamous for an ultra-strict interpretation of Sharia law during their initial 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, have repeatedly vowed a softer version this time. But terrified Afghans continue to try and flee, overwhelming the US-led military operation at Kabul airport and leading to tragic scenes in which at least seven people have died.
As crowds at the airport swell, the US embassy in Afghanistan has come put with a list of people who should gather at the Hamid Karzai International Airport:
• If you are a U.S. citizen, U.S. lawful permanent resident, immigrant visa applicant, or are affiliated with the U.S. government and have received specific instructions to travel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, follow the instructions you have been given.
• If you have begun the SIV or the P1/P2 process, you will be given instructions on next steps. Please understand, however, that this process may take an extended period.
• If you are not a part of the above groups, but are seeking to leave Afghanistan and are part of an organized private effort to evacuate, please do not come to the airport until you have received specific instructions to travel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport from our flight organizer.
• If you do not have a verified invitation, you will not be allowed into the airport or on to an evacuation flight.
In an effort to ramp up the airlift, the US government ordered six major commercial airlines to fly back to the United States those who have been evacuated from Kabul to US bases in the Gulf and Europe. Overcrowding at those bases has slowed down, and occasionally stopped, the flights from Kabul.