Photos: Evacuations from Kabul airport — fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan

·5 min read

Scenes of chaos have emerged this week from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where thousands of people have been attempting to flee Afghanistan following the recent Taliban takeover and the collapse of the government. U.S. officials say they are racing to evacuate as many people from the country as possible before the end of the month, when American troops are scheduled to withdraw after two decades of occupation.

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport in Kabul.
A baby is handed over to the U.S. Army over the perimeter wall of the airport in Kabul. (Omar Haidari/Reuters)

President Biden said Friday that 13,000 people, including Americans and Afghans who have applied for so-called special immigrant visas or SIVs, have been evacuated from Kabul since Aug. 14, and approximately 18,000 total have been removed from the country since late July. 

An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, kept warm by the uniform of Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, C-17 loadmaster, during an evacuation flight from Kabul, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021.  (U.S. Air Force/1st Lt. Mark Lawson/Handout via Reuters)
An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation flight. (U.S. Air Force/1st Lt. Mark Lawson/Handout via Reuters)

The Biden administration has reportedly estimated that the number of Americans in Afghanistan is between 10,000 and 15,000. There are also more than 80,000 Afghans who are believed to be seeking to evacuate, including more than 20,000 translators and others who worked with the U.S. military and have applied for Special Immigrant Visas.

A boy is processed through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan August 18, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via Reuters)
A boy at an Evacuee Control Checkpoint at Hamid Karzai International Airport. (U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via Reuters)

After hastening the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this month, the Biden administration was forced to ramp up the U.S. military presence in Kabul over the last few days in an effort to expedite the evacuation process before the final pullout.

U.S. Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escorts evacuees during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, on August 18, 2021. (Lance Cpl Nicholas Guevara/USMC/UPI/Shutterstock)
U.S. Marines escort evacuees at the airport in Kabul. (Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/USMC/UPI/Shutterstock)

As of Friday, Taylor said there were now 5,800 total troops on the ground with the capacity evacuate between 5,000 and 9,000 people out of Kabul per day. The exact number, however, depends on how many eligible people are able to make it onto the airfield, he said.

Evacuees board an evacuation flight in Kabul. (Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/USMC/UPI/Shutterstock)
Evacuees board a flight in Kabul. (Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/USMC/UPI/Shutterstock)

The U.S. evacuation efforts are reliant on cooperation from the Taliban, who, officials have said, are facilitating safe passage to the airport for American citizens. However, there have been many reports that Afghan citizens seeking to evacuate have encountered harassment and violence from Taliban forces.

Afghan people sit inside a U.S. military aircraft preparing to leave Afghanistan. (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)
Afghan people in a U.S. military aircraft preparing to leave Afghanistan. (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued an alert Wednesday to people in the Afghan capital, saying it “cannot ensure safe passage” to the airport.

Afghan people queue up and board a U S military aircraft to leave Afghanistan, at the military airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021. (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)
Afghan people line up to board a flight leaving the country. (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden has promised not to leave any American citizens behind in Afghanistan, and said Wednesday that could mean keeping troops in the country past his self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31. It remains unclear how many vulnerable Afghans, including thousands of translators and others who worked for the U.S. government, will make it to safety before U.S. troops pull out of the country for good.

A U.S. Marine assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit interacts with children during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/Handout via Reuters)
A U.S. Marine interacts with children during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/Handout via Reuters)
Afghan people sit inside a U S military aircraft to leave Afghanistan, at the military airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021.
Evacuees inside a plane leaving Afghanistan. (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)
A U.S. Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) provides water to a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, in this photo taken on August 20, 2021.  (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
A U.S. Marine provides water to a child during an evacuation at the airport in Kabul on Friday. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
Evacuees from Afghanistan sit inside a military aircraft during an evacuation from Kabul, in this photo taken on August 19, 2021 at undisclosed location and released on August 20, 2021.  (Staff Sgt. Brandon Cribelar/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
People inside a military aircraft during an evacuation from Kabul on Thursday. (Staff Sgt. Brandon Cribelar/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
Afghans and Spanish citizens residing in Afghanistan board a military plane as part of their evacuation, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021. (Ministry of Defense of Spain/Handout via Reuters)
Afghans and Spanish citizens residing in Afghanistan board a military plane as part of their evacuation. (Ministry of Defense of Spain/Handout via Reuters)
UK coalition forces, Turkish coalition forces, and U.S. Marines assist a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, in this photo taken on August 20, 2021.  (Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
U.K., Turkish and U.S. forces assist a child during an evacuation at Kabul's airport on Friday. (Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force via AP)
Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force plane to be transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport. (Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force via AP)
People evacuated from Afghanistan pose in front of a German Bundeswehr airplane after arriving at the airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Bundeswehr via AP)
Evacuees in front of a German Bundeswehr airplane after arriving in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. (Bundeswehr via AP)
Turkish evatuate Afghanistan on a A400 M type transport aircraft of the Turkish Armed Forces. (Aykut Karadag/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Turkish citizens evacuate Afghanistan on a Turkish Armed Forces aircraft. (Aykut Karadag/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport. (Ben Shread/UK MOD Crown copyright 2021/Handout via Reuters)
British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul. (Ben Shread/UK MOD Crown copyright 2021/Handout via Reuters)
Evacuees from Kabul arrive at Tashkent Airport in Uzbekistan. (Marc Tessensohn/Bundeswehr via Getty Images)
Evacuees from Kabul arrive at Tashkent airport in Uzbekistan. (Marc Tessensohn/Bundeswehr via Getty Images)
A family sits on a Turkish Armed Forces aircraft during evacuation in Kabul. (Aykut Karadag/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A family on a Turkish Armed Forces aircraft during evacuation in Kabul. (Aykut Karadag/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Turkish nationals board a Turkish Air Force plane at Kabul airport, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. (Turkish Defense Ministry via AP)
Turkish nationals board a Turkish Air Force plane at Kabul airport. (Turkish Defense Ministry via AP)
A U.S. Marine assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit fist bumps a child evacuee during a military drawdown at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, on August 18, 2021.  (Lance Cpl Nicholas Guevara/USMC/UPI/Shutterstock)
A U.S. Marine fist-bumps a child evacuee in Afghanistan. (Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/USMC/UPI/Shutterstock)
Evacuees from Afghanistan board a military aircraft during an evacuation from Kabul, in this photo taken on August 19, 2021 at undisclosed location and released on August 20, 2021.  (Staff Sgt. Brandon Cribelar/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)
Evacuees from Afghanistan board a military aircraft during an evacuation from Kabul on Thursday. (Staff Sgt. Brandon Cribelar/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)

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