Taliban LIVE: Regime sets up civilian executions but makes bizarre climate change pitch

13:17 Poland stops evacuation over safety fears

Poland has stopped evacuations from Kabul airport six days before the deadline amid safety fears.

Deputy foreign minister Marcin Przydacz said: “After a long analysis of reports on the security situation, we cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer.”

The minister claims the informed decision was reached after conversations with US and British officials.

13:02 Protests erupt in Netherlands as refugees arrive from Afghanistan

Protests erupted last night near Utrecht in the Netherlands, in response to the arrival of refugees from Afghanistan. 

It was reported by local media that around 250 people gathered to protest the arrival of refugees at an army camp in Harskamp, where up to 800 people fleeing the Taliban will soon be accommodated.

The emergency shelter is one of four camps erected by the Netherlands in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

12:54 Germany to continue efforts to protect Afghans after US deadline

Germany will continue to support vulnerable Afghans after the looming evacuation deadline August 31, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an address to the German parliament, Ms Merkel said: “The end of the air bridge in a few days must not mean the end of efforts to protect Afghan helpers and help those Afghans who have been left in a bigger emergency with the takeover of the Taliban.

“That’s why we are working intensively at all levels to find how we can protect those who helped us, including through the civilian operation of the airport in Kabul.”

12:43 Banks reopen after being closed for more than 10 days

The banks have reportedly reopened after being closed since the Taliban took control August 15.

The reopening comes after ATMs were raided, bank accounts frozen and prices began to soar. 

Photos from Kabul show dozens of people lining up with Taliban guards controlling the line. 

The reopening of banks comes after the World Bank announced it would cut off billions of dollars heading for Afghanistan. 

Amid concerns for human rights, the World Bank plans to monitor the actions of the Taliban and work together with the international community to decide the next step.

12:29 COVID-19 vaccine drive plummets by 80 percent

The number of people getting COVID-19 vaccines in Afghanistan has dropped by a devastating 80 percent in the first week after the Taliban declared victory, according to Unicef.

Nearly two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine already delivered to Afghanistan will expire in November, the agency warned.

A Unicef spokesperson said: “The drop is understandable, as in situations of chaos, conflict and emergency, people will prioritise their safety and security first.”

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Vaccines already delivered to Afghanistan will expire in November (Image: GETTY)

12:25 19,000 more vulnerable people evacuated from Afghanistan yesterday

The White House has revealed US and coalition forces airlifted around 19,000 people from Afghanistan yesterday.

This brings the total number airlifted out of Kabul since the day before the Taliban declared victory, 14 August, to 82,300.

It comes as a race to evacuate thousands speeds up ahead of the US withdrawal deadline of 31 August.

The Taliban yesterday rejected any possibility of an extended deadline and warned America to stop “encouraging” highly skilled Afghan nationals to leave the country. 

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Foreign troops will be forced to withdraw after August 31 (Image: GETTY)

12:17 Amnesty International warns women’s rights are at risk

Amnesty International has warned that women’s rights are under threat from the Taliban and highlighted the brave women protesting in the Afghan capital Kabul. 

12:00 Dominic Raab faces mounting calls to resign

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said that, with the benefit of hindsight, he would not have gone away. 

The admission comes amid mounting calls for him to resign after it was reported that Foreign Office officials advised him while he was on holiday, August 13, to call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar and arrange help for those who supported British troops.

But Mr Raab instead delegated the call to a junior minister and it was later revealed that the call had never been made.

Mr Raab told Sky News: “Of course with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have gone away, but that is a luxury of commentators not politicians.

“And if you’re the Foreign Secretary, I’m travelling all the time for work purposes, I always need to be able to grip crises that arise, and that’s what we were doing.

“With the benefit of hindsight I would have been back earlier, but we were all surprised by the scale and the pace of the collapse of the situation.”

11:40 ‘Captain Hindsight’s excuses won’t cut it,’ Lib Dem slams Raab

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Foreign Secretary to publish any advice he received from either Foreign Office officials or Prime Minister Boris Johnson, relating to permission to go on the holiday as the Taliban made a series of blistering victories.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “Captain Hindsight’s excuses just won’t cut it with the British people.

“Enough is enough.

“Dominic Raab must come clean.

“He must publish the exact advice he received which gave him permission to head to the beach whilst the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

“The Prime Minister must show leadership on this and sack Raab, who is clearly not fit to represent Britain.”

11:20 Taliban makes bizarre climate change pitch

The Taliban has vowed to play a global role in tackling climate change and world security, despite their shocking track record of orchestrating civilian executions and eroding the rights of women and minorities.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, told Newsweek: “We believe the world has a unique opportunity of rapprochement and coming together to tackle the challenges not only facing us but the entire humanity.

“These challenges ranging from world security and climate change need the collective efforts of all, and cannot be achieved if we exclude or ignore an entire people who have been devastated by imposed wars for the past four decades.”

This bizarre attempt to rebrand comes a day after UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, cited multiple credible reports of serious human rights violations committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan including “summary executions” of civilians and Afghan security forces who had surrendered.

Since declaring victory on August 15, the Taliban has made a concerted effort to appear more modern and accepting than their previous reign. 

Women were forbidden from seeking an education or joining the work force while the Taliban held Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. 

This time, the Taliban claim women will be allowed an education but many are skeptical that this right will be protected.

10:45 Russia and China discuss Afghanistan

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed their views on Afghanistan in a call earlier today, according to Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily.

President Xi urged all parties in Afghanistan to build an open and inclusive political framework, implement moderate, stable policies and cut ties with all terrorist groups, it said.

The paper also claims China is willing to work with the international community, including Russia, to increase communication and coordination in the face of the Afghan crisis. 

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President Xi urged all parties in Afghanistan to build an open and inclusive political framework (Image: GETTY)

10:30 Tajikistan will not recognise exclusively Taliban government

Tajikistan will not recognise an Afghan government that is not inclusive and representative of all its ethnic groups, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said today.

President Rakhmon has accused the Taliban of failing to fulfil their promise of inclusivity.

In a statement, his administration said: “Facts clearly show that the Taliban are reneging on their earlier promises to form an interim government with broad participation of the country’s other political forces and are preparing to create an Islamic emirate.

“Tajikistan will not recognise any other government that would be established in that country through oppression and without taking into account the position of all the people of Afghanistan, especially all of its ethnic minorities.”

Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, hosts a Russian military base which is conducting military tank exercises today. 

The joint exercises come as Russia begins the evacuation of 500 Russian nationals and vulnerable Afghans.

10:15 Afghan evacuation ‘on track’ says Biden

The evacuation of eligible Afghans is “on track” according to President Joe Biden. 

The US president came under harsh international criticism yesterday for refusing to extend the evacuation deadline later than August 31. 

Since August 14 – the day before the Taliban swept into the capital Kabul and declared victory – the United States and its allies have evacuated more than 70,000 people, including their citizens, NATO personnel and vulnerable Afghans.

President Biden confirmed they were on track to meet the deadline, set under an agreement struck with the Taliban last year.

The US President said: “The sooner we can finish, the better.

“Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”

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Biden has refused to extend the evacuation deadline (Image: GETTY)

09:55 Russia begins evacuations at the same time as military exercises in neighbouring country

Russia began evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan this morning at the same time as running military exercises for its tank forces in  neighbouring country Tajikistan.

The operation, which will involve four military transport aircrafts, was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian government plans to request flights out of Afghanistan in September for Afghan students who are planning to study in Russia, the embassy said on Tuesday.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan will likely be seen as a security issue for Moscow, which sees Central Asia as part of its southern defensive flank and fears radical Islamism spreading into the region.

Russia is holding a month of military exercises in Tajikistan and has reinforced its base there in recent weeks.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had deployed a number of T-72 tanks to Tajikistan’s mountains and practiced long-range firing at moving targets, according to the Interfax news agency.

The ministry also said it was evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan, including Russians and citizens of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

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Russia running military tank exercises in Tajikistan (Image: GETTY)

09:38 Taliban face new enemy after refusing vaccines: WHO warns Covid to rip through Afghanistan

The Taliban’s refusal to vaccinate Afghanistan will lead to a drastic spike in COVID-19 infections, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

As thousands attempt to flee the Taliban regime, chaos has overtaken Afghanistan’s few airports, grounding flights and delaying critical shipments of medical supplies and equipment.

There is also a growing concern over the Talibans’ stance on vaccines, which is particularly worrying as only around 1.8 million doses have been administered in a population of more than 30 million.

According to the latest WHO data, there have been more than 152,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Afghanistan, and more than 7,000 deaths – with those figures expected to rise exponentially under Taliban rule.

A WHO spokesperson said: “As the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate rapidly, WHO is extremely concerned over the unfolding safety and humanitarian needs in the country, including the risk of disease and rise in COVID-19 transmission.

“We call on parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian and human rights laws.

“The gains of the past 20 years cannot be turned back.”

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The Taliban’s decision not to vaccinate risks a huge spike in Covid-19 infections (Image: GETTY)

09:15 What impact will economic sanctions have on Afghanistan?

Replacing billions in foreign aid with economic sanctions threatens to cripple what is already one of the poorest countries in the world.

The economic sanctions on the Taliban will inevitably impact the whole country and make it more difficult for the much needed aid groups to operate.

The World Bank said that it would explore ways help support the people of Afghanistan and retain some of the development gains that were made over the last 20 years.

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Afghanistan is already one of the top 10 poorest countries in the world (Image: GETTY)

09:03 UK ‘utterly unprepared’ for troop withdrawal, said shadow defence secretary

Shadow defence secretary John Healey has accused the government of being “utterly unprepared” for the situation in Afghanistan and being too slow to gather the G7 for crisis talks.

Speaking to GB News, Mr Healey said: “Britain has been the president of the G7 since January, yet yesterday was the first meeting of the G7 that Boris Johnson has called to discuss Afghanistan and in truth we have been utterly unprepared for this troop withdrawal. 

“There has been no evidence of putting in place what’s been necessary and is now desperately needed to continue aid, deal with the refugee crisis and make sure that we don’t see Afghanistan slip back again into being a haven for terrorism directed against the West.”

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UK Government too slow to call G7, according to Healey (Image: GB News)

08:51 Britain will ‘exercise maximum influence’ to prevent Afghanistan becoming breeding ground for terror

The Foreign Secretary has said Britain will “exercise the maximum moderating influence that it can” to prevent the Taliban from turning Afghanistan into a breeding ground for terror.

Dominic Raab said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to hold the G7 meeting on Tuesday was “incredibly important” but also the Government needed to “broaden that group of like-minded countries as well”.

Mr Raab said: “I’ve been speaking to China, Pakistan, India and we’ll be trying to convene meetings of the permanent members of the Security Council to agree the contours for the way forward.

“In terms of the leaders, we will use all the leaders at our disposal. Sanctions potentially, access to the international financial institutions… If they (the Taliban) want aid going into Afghanistan, it won’t go through the Taliban, they’ll have to provide a permissive environment for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and the UN.”

08:35 Foreign Secretary vows to evacuate animal charity worker Paul Farthing

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the Government is working with former marine Paul Farthing and his animal charity to try to get him and his staff out of Afghanistan.

Mr Farthing, known as Pen, has campaigned to have both his employees and the animals in their care evacuated in a plan he has dubbed Operation Ark.

On Monday, he announced that the UK Government had granted visas for all his staff and their dependants – totalling 68 people – but the evacuation of the shelter’s animals has remained a sticking point.

In an exchange of blows yesterday, Mr Farthing accused defence secretary Ben Wallace of blocking his flight back to the UK for refusing to abandon his staff and animals. 

Mr Raab told LBC this morning: “We’re trying to do all we can for the staff, but in terms of the animals, and the question of whether they can be prioritised ahead of the other people that are trying to get out, I don’t have anything more to add to what the Defence Secretary, I think, rightly said in the last 24 hours.”

Pen Farthing: I never thought I’d be treated like this

07:51 Biden freezes Afghan money in the USA

President Joe Biden has also frozen the assets of Afghanistan’s central bank that are held in the US.

Da Afghanistan Bank has reserves of roughly $9billion, most of which is held in the US system.

In the days after the Taliban took control of Kabul, the White House said any assets that Afghanistan’s central bank has in the US would not be made available to the Taliban.

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President Joe Biden has frozen the assets of Afghanistan’s central bank currently held in the US (Image: GETTY)

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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