A small number of Irish citizens believed to be in Afghanistan have been urged to contact the Irish embassy in Abu Dhabi for consular assistance as concern grows over the speed and scale of the Taliban’s insurgency.
Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani held urgent talks with local leaders and international partners on Saturday as Taliban rebels pushed closer to Kabul, capturing a town south of the capital that is one of the gateways to the city.
The United States and Britain rushed troops in to help evacuate their embassies after militants captured town after town while the US-backed international coalition of foreign forces that has backed the Afghan government continued its withdrawal.
Many Afghans have fled from the provinces to the capital, driven out by fighting and fearful of a return to hardline Islamist rule, as resistance from Afghan government forces crumbles.
“As your president, my focus is on preventing further instability, violence, and displacement of my people,” Ghani said in a brief televised address, adding that he was consulting government, elders, politicians and international leaders.
Internally displaced Afghans from northern provinces take refuge in a public park in Kabul. Photograph: Rahmat Gul/AP
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin is advising all Irish citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately, and confirmed on Saturday that a number of citizens are in touch with the Irish consulate in Abu Dhabi.
“A small number of the Irish citizens in Afghanistan are registered with the Embassy of Ireland in Abu Dhabi, which provides consular assistance in Afghanistan,” said a spokeswoman.
“If you are currently in Afghanistan, you are advised to leave as soon as possible by commercial means due to the worsening security situation. Irish citizens in Afghanistan should contact the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi to confirm their departure plans.
“There are limits to the assistance the Department of Foreign Affairs can provide in a crisis and you should not rely on the Department of Foreign Affairs being able to evacuate you from Afghanistan in an emergency.
“We cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to offer consular assistance should you decide to remain there.
“If you consider your presence in Afghanistan to be absolutely essential, you should have adequate and continuous professional security arrangements and ensure they are regularly reviewed, adhere to public health advice, and we would strongly advise that you make contact with the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi if you have not already done so.”
The department said it was “gravely concerned” at the speed and scale of the Taliban’s offensive and the impact of current levels of violence on the Afghan people.
“As a member of the UN Security Council since January, Ireland has consistently called on the Taliban to end its campaign of violence, and to commit to a permanent ceasefire to prevent further suffering to civilians,” it said.
“Ireland has also joined with the international community in urging the Taliban to re-engage in the Doha peace negotiations. A negotiated political settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government is the only way to secure a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
“The gains made by the Afghan people over the past two decades, including increased respect for human rights, especially for women, children and minorities, must be protected.” – Additional reporting: Reuters