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Irish citizens seeking Afghan evacuation increase to 33

Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, August 18, 2021 (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) 
Dominic McGrath, PA

The number of Irish citizens hoping to leave Afghanistan has increased to 33, the foreign affairs minister has said.

Simon Coveney said the number includes 25 adults and eight dependents.

“We are working with other EU countries to secure places for them on military flights that will hopefully be facilitated in the coming days,” he said on Wednesday.

He said the uncertainty in the Afghan capital Kabul and the city’s airport makes organising flights difficult, but he hopes the Irish citizens will be flying out within days.

“It’s not easy for even military planes to fly in and out,” he said.

Mr Coveney, who attended an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, said Ireland is working with the UK and EU states to secure safe passage out of the country for Irish citizens.

“We are working hard to ensure there will be a place on some of those planes for Irish citizens to be successfully brought back home,” he said.

“People will not be left behind.”

Asked on Tuesday for a specific timeframe for when Irish people might be able to leave Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs declined to answer the question directly.

A spokesperson said: “The embassy in Abu Dhabi is in direct and ongoing contact with Irish citizens who remain in Afghanistan and are known to us – or, in a small number of cases, with the organisations with which they work.

“We are working closely with other EU member states, most of whom also have citizens in the country, with regards to options for repatriation flights. There are no commercial flights in operation we understand.

“The department is not in a position to disclose the details of Irish citizens in Afghanistan.”

The Government on Tuesday said it will provide one million euro in humanitarian funding to support people in Afghanistan through the UN High Commission for Refugees.

It has also vowed to provide a further 150 humanitarian visas for Afghans under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

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