An explosion near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan has killed at least 12 U.S. service members, according to military officials. The attack comes as U.S.-backed Afghan forces are fighting Taliban insurgents for control of the strategic city of Ghazni, which is just 70 miles south of Kabul.
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In an ISIS suicide bomb assault at an airport gate on Thursday, 12 US military personnel were killed and 15 were injured, according to the Defense Department. A large number of Afghan people were killed or injured. CreditCredit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
Officials say two suicide bombers attacked a crowded gathering outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday, killing at least 12 American military personnel and dozens of Afghan civilians.
The US military suffered one of the greatest single American tolls of the war in the last days of its 20-year involvement in Afghanistan.
“Today is a difficult day,” said US Central Command commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. He also said that the threat was not over.
At a press conference in Washington, General McKenzie said, “We have additional current threats to the airport.”
The explosives exploded near a throng of people waiting to board one of the few remaining evacuation planes out of the airport. Following the blasts, there were reports of gunfire.
The Islamic State claimed credit for the assault in a statement.
General McKenzie verified the American dead toll. He said that 15 additional military personnel had been injured.
The American soldiers, mainly Marines, were part of a 5,800-strong force sent by Vice President Joe Biden to assist with the evacuation of Americans and Afghan friends from the nation after the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.
“Terrorists assassinated these soldiers while they attempted to save the lives of others,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said on Thursday.
As various hospitals and authorities reported in, estimates of the total dead and injured varied, and the number of dead and wounded was rapidly increasing.
At least 60 people have been confirmed killed, according to an Afghan health official, while at least 140 have been injured. According to another health official, at least 40 people have died and 120 have been injured. The Taliban ordered them not to brief the press, so both officials talked on the condition of anonymity.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, denounced the assault, saying at least 13 people had been killed and 60 injured.
A New York Times writer witnessed scores of badly injured or dead individuals in one hospital alone.
Hundreds of people had come.
attempting to flee the city
Hundreds of people had come.
attempting to flee the city
Hundreds of people had come.
attempting to flee the city
Hundreds of people had come.
attempting to flee the city
The night before the assault, a senior US official warned of a “particular” and “credible” threat from an Islamic State offshoot, the Islamic State of Khorasan, or ISIS-K, near the airport, and Western countries started encouraging citizens to flee the region.
Even with such a precise warning, military experts say it would be impossible to see a suicide bomber wearing a hidden explosive vest in a large crowd like the one at the airport.
Mr. Austin stated in a statement Thursday that “we will not be dissuaded from the job at hand,” implying that evacuations from Kabul airport will continue in the last four days until the deadline of Aug. 31.
“To do anything less — particularly now — would be a disgrace to the mission and sacrifice these men and women have made for our nation and the Afghan people,” he added.
Thousands of Afghan residents and foreign nationals have congregated outside the airport’s gates, which has a military and civilian side, since the Taliban took control earlier this month, anxious to be flown out of the country. As individuals rushed for evacuation aircraft, the scene degenerated into pandemonium at moments.
Evacuation planes were ongoing, according to two US military sources, but it was unclear if any airport gates were open.
In a tweet, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stated, “We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a sophisticated assault that resulted in a number of US and civilian fatalities.” “At least one additional explosion has been confirmed at or near the Baron Hotel, which is a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
The Abbey Gate is the international airport’s primary entrance. The US Embassy in Kabul advised people to avoid going to the airport and airport gates, and to leave immediately if they were at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate entries.
Given the haste and chaos surrounding the evacuation, U.S. military officials at the airport said an assault was never a question of if, but when. The Marines stationed at Abbey Gate had been warned on the possibility of a suicide bomber hitting close to their position, yet they proceeded to process individuals attempting to enter.
One Afghan, Barat, claimed he was approximately 30 feet away from one of the explosions while traveling to the airport with his cousin to present papers to foreign troops.
“There was a lot of squeezing going on,” he added. “It was when I stumbled that the explosion occurred. Four or five troops, I believe, were injured.”
Then there’s chaos.
“We collapsed to the ground, and the foreign troops opened fire,” Barat said. “There were corpses all over the place, and people were fleeing.”
Fahim, a shopkeeper from Kunduz Province, arrived in Kabul two weeks ago in an effort to flee the country and was standing outside the airport when he saw “two huge explosions” close. “People were leaving the region, and the Taliban pushed us to leave,” he said.
“The Americans were shooting in order to disperse the crowd,” Fahim said.
The airport’s intermittent firing and sirens may be heard throughout in the city.
Reporting was provided by Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Megan Specia, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Jim Huylebroek, Matthieu Aikins, Victor J. Blue, Fatima Faizi, Najim Rahim, Fahim Abed, and Sharif Hassan.
Victims of a terrorist assault at Kabul’s airport arrive at an emergency hospital. Credit: Victor J. The New York Times is represented by the color blue.
The roads outside the Kabul airport had been a picture of despair and confusion for more than a week, but in a single moment on Thursday, the unimaginably terrible became much worse.
At least two explosions ripped through throngs of civilians fleeing Afghanistan, killing scores and injuring hundreds more, including American military personnel.
The explosions occurred at Abbey Gate, one of Hamid Karzai International Airport’s major entrances, and the Baron Hotel, which advertises itself as having “the most secure housing arrangement in Kabul.”
Sounds of gunshots and sirens could be heard after the explosion at Abbey Gate.
Taliban militants in various outfits brandished lengths of pipe and wires in an effort to disperse the throng that had gathered to try to access the airport earlier.
“There was an explosion against the Americans, and a lot of people were murdered, civilians and military,” one Taliban fighter at the entrance, who did not want to be identified, claimed. “The issue has gotten out of hand. There are a number of individuals that are dead on the ground.”
The Taliban denounced the assault, and US officials said they didn’t think it was carried out by the group, given its desire for a smooth withdrawal. Officials warned last week that a Taliban competitor, the Islamic State of Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s branch in Afghanistan, might launch an assault.
According to Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby, a number of US military personnel were killed, and others were being treated for wounds. They seemed to be the first American troops killed in Afghanistan since February of this year.
Mr. Kirby added, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates” of those murdered.
The number of victims was estimated to be in the thousands. However, following the blasts, footage shared on Twitter seemed to show bleeding corpses heaped on a pavement and floating in a canal near the airport’s entrance.
Ambulance after ambulance could be seen arriving at one emergency hospital under the glare of floodlights and the gazes of a worried throng, some of whom were youngsters.
A journalist and former government employee sobbed as she recounted receiving a call from a taxi driver telling her that her spouse had been injured.
“I begged him not to go,” she said, “but he went this morning with his government I.D. card to show the foreigners.” “My wife and I have four children. “What is going to happen to us now?”
Seth Eden, a former contractor for the United States Agency for International Development who spent years in Afghanistan, claimed he had been assisting an Afghan acquaintance, a former deputy minister, in attempting to flee the country. To get inside the airport, his buddy was instructed through go to the Abbey Gate.
The gate, however, was locked when the former minister and his family arrived on Thursday.
Mr. Eden called the Marines stationed there, who had been informed of an impending assault, and convinced them to allow his buddy through. A bomb went off two minutes after the former minister and his family were allowed through.
Mr. Eden, who has spent the past two weeks navigating the American bureaucracy and getting 100 former colleagues and family members through the airport, said, “It’s a very, really terrible situation right now.”
On Thursday, reporters left the White House when it was reported that President Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had been postponed. Credit… The New York Times/David Mills
On Thursday, President Biden met with his national security staff at the White House to receive updates on the explosions near the Kabul airport and what they could imply for the last days of Afghanistan’s frenzied evacuation attempt.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, and other senior aides briefed Mr. Biden, according to White House sources.
Mr. Biden was supposed to get an update on the evacuation already. However, after learning of the assault and rumors of American fatalities, the president’s plans were thrown off.
Less than 15 minutes before Mr. Biden was scheduled to meet with Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, the White House announced that the meeting had been postponed, most likely until later in the day, and that it would now take place on Friday. Mr. Biden’s meeting with several of the country’s governors was also canceled.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, had to postpone her regular briefing.
Officials from the White House indicated that further adjustments to the president’s schedule will be revealed, perhaps indicating that Mr. Biden was prepared to address the country.
The administration’s concern was heightened by the scheduling adjustments. Late Wednesday, American authorities warned of an impending assault on Kabul’s airport.
One arrived on Thursday morning.
It was a “complex assault,” according to Pentagon sources, with at least two explosions. The Pentagon’s spokesman, John Kirby, said the explosions resulted in “a number of U.S. and civilian fatalities.”
Mr. Biden said earlier this week that all Americans, including those guarding the airport, would be evacuated by Aug. 31. Officials indicated at the time that Mr. Biden’s decision was influenced by fears of terrorist strikes against Americans and their Afghan friends.
Mr. Biden now has to make a rapid choice about whether or not to attempt to withdraw American forces out even faster.
The situation, according to officials, is still fluid.
On Wednesday, outside Kabul’s airport. The greatest imminent danger to the Americans and Taliban during the withdrawal has been identified as ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s Afghan offshoot. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
DOHA, Qatar (Reuters) – Counter-terrorism specialists have worried that since the Taliban reclaimed power after two decades underground, Afghanistan would become a fertile field for terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Two blasts near the Kabul airport on Thursday ratcheted up the danger, killing dozens of civilians and injuring dozens more, only hours after US authorities warned of such a scenario.
While no immediate claim of responsibility was made, the United States’ warnings referenced the Afghan branch of the Islamic State, a jihadist group that formerly controlled vast parts of Syria and Iraq and established franchises in other countries in an attempt to globalize its deadly ideology.
After explosions ripped through crowds outside Kabul’s airport on Thursday, many suspected that the Islamic State of Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s Afghan branch, was to blame.
Officials believe one thing is clear: the Taliban were not involved for this latest assault, despite the years of carnage they have inflicted in Afghanistan. Officials said the Taliban intend to keep the airport evacuated in a controlled manner at least until the end of the month.
Despite being decimated by years of military assault by the US and its allies, both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda remain a significant danger in the nation, according to terrorism experts.
Despite the fact that they are fierce rivals, they function in quite different ways.
Since Osama bin Laden supervised the group and planned the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it has evolved dramatically. In the years afterwards, the central leadership’s influence has waned, while local terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq, West Africa, and Asia have evolved, sometimes abandoning Al Qaeda doctrine in pursuit of local objectives.
The Islamic State, which split from Al Qaeda, has a more centralized leadership structure, with local branches retaining not just the original organization’s ideology but also significant operational ties.
According to Hassan Hassan, co-author of a book on the Islamic State and editor-in-chief of Newlines Magazine, this divergence has enabled the Islamic State to retain cohesiveness in a manner that Al Qaeda has not.
“It’s like establishing a Domino’s franchise and sending someone out for quality control,” he added of Al Qaeda.
The Islamic State, on the other hand, would “go a step farther and select a manager from the original organization,” according to him.
Al Qaeda is still thought to operate in Afghanistan under the aegis of the Taliban, who agreed last year with the Trump administration not to let the organization to use Afghan territory to target the US.
It’s unclear how strictly the Taliban will adhere to that promise, but the Islamic State, which has chastised the Taliban for not being tough enough, has no such restrictions.
That may put it in a better position to take advantage of the turmoil around the US departure date of August 31 and the transition from a US-backed administration to the Taliban.
“By default, the transition from one security force to another offers a chance for ISIS,” Mr. Hassan said, referring to the Islamic State.
On Wednesday, people waited to enter the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
On Thursday, many countries declared that their evacuations from Kabul airport will be halted, as governments across the globe issued grave warnings about dangers to the masses gathering there in an effort to escape Afghanistan.
At least two explosions occurred in the region before evening, one at the Abbey Gate and the second at the adjacent Baron Hotel. The explosions, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, were “a sophisticated assault that resulted in a number of US and civilian fatalities.”
Even before the explosions, global leaders had decided that they couldn’t help with the evacuations any longer. Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands have all said that airlifts from Hamid Karzai International Airport, which includes both civilian and military portions, would no longer be possible.
At a press conference on Thursday, Gen. Wayne Eyre, Canada’s acting head of the military staff, said, “We remained in Afghanistan as long as we could.” “We wish we could have remained longer to save everyone who was in such a hurry to go. It’s sad that we couldn’t.”
According to General Eyre, Canada has evacuated approximately 3,700 individuals out of Afghanistan using a mix of military and allied aircraft. The precise number of Canadians, permanent residents, and others helped by the Canadian military, as well as the number of those left behind, were not immediately known.
Belgium decided to stop its evacuation flights from Kabul on Wednesday night after receiving indications of suicide threats near the airport, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced Thursday morning.
“During the day on Wednesday, the situation rapidly deteriorated,” Mr. De Croo added. “We discovered that there was a danger of suicide bombings near the airport and among the throng. As a consequence, we saw that getting to the airport gates got extremely difficult, if not impossible.”
Similar estimates were performed by defense authorities in the Netherlands and Denmark. Prior to the blasts on Thursday, the United Kingdom advised individuals fleeing Afghanistan to seek foreign land crossings, such as those with Pakistan or Iran, rather than the Kabul airport.
In an interview with LBC Radio, armed forces minister James Heappey stated, “We couldn’t do anything except alter the travel advice last night to warn people against going to Kabul airport and if they are at the airport to get out to a place of safety.”
Mr. Heappey said the BBC Britain had evacuated just over 2,000 individuals in the previous 24 hours, but that a further 1,000 people it wanted to remove were still within the nation.
Evacuations have persisted despite growing security concerns. Early on Thursday, White House officials said that 13,400 individuals had been evacuated from Kabul airport in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of persons evacuated to 95,700 since the Taliban retook the city.
The Pentagon promised to keep the civilian airlift going, with spokesman John F. Kirby stating, “We will continue to evacuate as many individuals as we can until the operation is completed.”
Afghan Special Forces supported by the CIA guarding the airport’s northern perimeter in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
Military authorities stated on Thursday that the Pentagon flew out 13,400 individuals from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in the last 24 hours, a significant decrease from the previous several days, owing to the fact that receiving sites in the Middle East are once again filling up. Coalition planes transported 8,300 passengers throughout the course of the 24-hour period, which is roughly the same as on previous days.
However, on Thursday, the number of US military aircraft fell to 17, carrying 5,100 passengers, down from 42 military flights carrying 11,200 people the day before, according to a military official. Military sources attribute the drop to delays at sites like as Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where authorities are checking incoming Afghans against American terrorist watch lists for up to 12 hours.
According to John F. Kirby, the chief Pentagon spokesman, the massive civilian airlift will continue until President Biden’s August 31 deadline for withdrawing US forces, but the mission was complicated even more by at least two blasts outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, just hours after Western governments had warned of a security threat there.
Mr. Kirby said that around 5,400 American soldiers are currently at the airport, after 400 troops who were not necessary for the evacuation departed the nation in recent days.
The military and its international partners had been flying out approximately 20,000 people per day for the last several days as the military operation rushed to get as many Americans and Afghan friends out before the August 31 deadline.
The 13,400 additional evacuees on Thursday increased the total number of persons evacuated since the Taliban retook the city to 95,700.
A Turkish cargo plane and an armored vehicle were seen at Kabul’s international airport last week, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry. Turkish Defense Ministry photo courtesy of Agence France-Presse Via Getty Images
Turkey’s soldiers are leaving Afghanistan, where they have been in charge of Kabul’s international airport for the last six years, abandoning a plan to stay when the US leaves.
Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, said in a statement on Thursday, “We want to finish the transfer of troops in the shortest feasible period.” He expressed gratitude to Pakistan and Tajikistan for their assistance in the military withdrawal.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Defense Ministry stated on Twitter that the first soldiers will return to Turkish territory the same day, and that the whole operation would take just 36 hours.
After American troops leave by the Aug. 31 deadline, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to keep Turkish troops at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul’s main airport with both civilian and military sections, to support the Afghan government and maintain air access for Western embassy personnel and international aid organizations.
The Taliban had frequently requested that Turkey, which has been a part of NATO’s Afghanistan operation for the last 20 years, leave. Mr. Erdogan, on the other hand, has continued to conduct talks with Taliban leaders and neighboring nations, particularly Pakistan, which has strong connections to the Taliban, to see whether a Turkish presence could be maintained.
When the Taliban took control of the city earlier this month and the US and NATO allies expedited their withdrawals, Turkey boosted its presence from 600 to 3,000 troops to help with the evacuations.
Mr. Erdogan chose to withdraw forces in the face of turmoil at the airport during the past ten days, increasing security concerns, and the Taliban’s stubborn attitude — as well as a growing chorus of domestic opposition saying that Turkey should not carry the risk of protecting the airport on its own.
Turkey is still providing the Taliban administration technical help to operate the airport, according to Ibrahim Kalin, the president’s spokesperson and national security advisor.
In an interview with Turkish television station NTV, he stated, “After our troops leave, we may maintain the responsibility of administering the airport.” “There is a logistical capacity component to operating an airport. “We’re still talking about it,” he added.
He said that the Turkish assistance would be a professional service that the Taliban needed.
Kamala Harris Vows to Help Afghan Women and Children
During a tour to Vietnam, Vice President Kamala Harris said that American people, as well as women and children in the area, are the top priority for rescue efforts in Afghanistan.
Our first concern right now is evacuating American people, as well as Afghans who cooperated with us and Afghans who are in danger, with a focus on women and children, and we’ve made considerable headway. I think we have evacuated about 80,000 individuals since August 14, according to my calculations. And, as you are aware, we continue to remove hundreds of individuals every day and night, knowing that their presence is dangerous. It is a hazardous and difficult task, but it must be completed, and we plan to do it to the best of our abilities.
During a tour to Vietnam, Vice President Kamala Harris said that American people, as well as women and children in the area, are the top priority for rescue efforts in Afghanistan. CreditCredit… Evelyn Hockstein took this picture of the pool.
Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday that the US will cooperate with partners in Afghanistan to safeguard women and children, as the Taliban’s takeover forced her to face disturbing historical similarities and deflected focus away from her intended goal on a five-day trip to Southeast Asia.
“There is no doubt that any of us who are paying attention is worried about that problem in Afghanistan,” Ms. Harris added, referring to the country’s protection of women and children.
On the last day of her journey to Southeast Asia, the vice president delivered her remarks in Hanoi, Vietnam. The tour is a major element of the Biden administration’s plan to build regional alliances and concentrate American foreign policy on contending with China’s growing influence.
Ms. Harris has had the difficult task of convincing allies in Asia and across the globe that the US can still be a reliable friend in the face of the Taliban’s quick capture of Afghanistan and the US’ hasty evacuations.
The situation in Kabul has thrown a shadow over a tour intended to concentrate on public health, supply chain problems, and economic ties, with the Biden administration rushing to make an Aug. 31 deadline to depart Afghanistan.
Two weeks ago, a Turkish Airlines aircraft took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport, one of the final commercial flights out of Kabul. Credit… The New York Times’ Kiana Hayeri
Authorities say almost two dozen children and their parents from San Diego County, California, are stuck in Afghanistan after visiting the country this summer.
According to a statement from the Cajon Valley Union School Area and a tweet from Representative Darrell Issa, who represents the district where the kids are from, the 20 pupils and 14 parents are trapped in Afghanistan and have sought federal help to travel home. According to David Miyashiro, the district administrator, the students vary in age from preschool to high school.
According to the school district, the kids and parents from five households traveled to Afghanistan to see their extended relatives. They quickly realized, however, that they would not be able to return for the first day of school on August 17; the Taliban having shocked the world two days before by seizing Kabul at breakneck speed.
According to Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero, it became almost difficult to obtain a flight out of the country, and the families were unable to reach the airport despite having airline tickets.
Dr. Miyashiro said in an interview on Wednesday night that the families were not among the throngs of people frantically attempting to catch an aircraft out of Kabul airport.
“The vast majority of them are hiding and sheltering in situ until someone contacts them to assist them in escaping,” he added.
According to the school district, one of the families requested that the school “keep their children’s places in their classes while they were stuck” on Aug. 16.
One family, on the other hand, was able to leave Afghanistan. Dr. Miyashiro stated that four pupils, two parents, and one baby came home last week after stopping in another nation.
Mr. Issa stated on Twitter on Wednesday that he is “working hard” to reunite the trapped families.
He said, “I won’t stop until we have answers and action.”
Mr. Issa’s spokesman, Jonathan Wilcox, said in a statement that the congressman is attempting to get immigration papers for his constituents trapped in Afghanistan.
The statement stated, “We are in constant communication with official channels, including the State Department and the Pentagon.”
Last week, people protested the situation in Afghanistan in front of the UN’s European offices in Geneva. Credit… via Associated Press/Martial Trezzini/KEYSTONE
On Wednesday, staff unions expressed growing dissatisfaction with the UN leadership’s failure to protect Afghan coworkers and their families, who remain trapped in Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban despite the fact that the majority of the organization’s non-Afghan staff has been relocated to other countries.
Many Afghan workers are in hiding or hesitant to continue working, according to their Western colleagues, for fear of reprisals from victorious Taliban militants who may view them as apostates, traitors, and agents of foreign meddling.
Even though the Taliban’s leadership has said that the United Nations should be allowed to operate in the nation unhindered while and after the US and NATO troops leave, which is set to be completed in less than a week, the worry persists.
Taliban agents arrested and assaulted several UN workers in Afghanistan, according to an internal UN memo seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, did not confirm or deny the report, but said it was “critical” that “the authorities in charge in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan realize that they have the responsibility to protect UN premises and ensure the safety of UN staff.”
Mr. Guterres has said many times that the United Nations completely supports the Afghan personnel, which is estimated to number between 3,000 and 3,400 people, and that he is doing all possible to guarantee their safety. According to Mr. Dujarric, approximately 10% of those Afghan employees are women, who are particularly vulnerable to Taliban persecution.
Mr. Dujarric, who told reporters that Mr. Guterres “understands the staff’s profound concern about what the future holds,” said the secretary general repeated his promises during a private virtual town hall meeting with staff members on Wednesday.
However, UN staff personnel on the ground have become more dubious of Mr. Guterres’ statements. The United Nations employee union in New York approved a resolution on Tuesday urging Mr. Guterres to take measures to allow Afghan staff members to avoid “unacceptable residual dangers” by evacuating from Afghanistan as soon as feasible.
Officials from the United Nations have said that they are unable to grant visas to Afghan troops without the assistance of other nations willing to host them. Officials from the United Nations have also said that the agency is dedicated to delivering services in Afghanistan, where nearly half of the population need humanitarian assistance. Without local personnel, such services as food and health care are difficult to provide.
The town hall was conducted only days after a second group of non-Afghan United Nations personnel was evacuated from Kabul. Many of the approximately 350 non-Afghan United Nations employees in the nation, including Deborah Lyons, the director of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan, are currently working remotely from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Uneven treatment of non-Afghan and Afghan employees working for the United Nations has become a thorny issue between management and workers at the world body. An online petition launched this weekend by staff union members urging Mr. Guterres to do more to assist Afghan workers and their families had gathered almost 6,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
The date has been changed to August 25, 2021.
An previous version of this story misstated the name of the United Nations staff union that approved a resolution asking the Secretary-General of the United Nations to assist Afghan workers in evacuating Afghanistan. Not the coordinating committee of the alliance of staff unions, but the United Nations staff union in New York.
Abbas Karimi during practice at the Paralympics in Tokyo on Tuesday. Credit… The New York Times/Chang W. Lee
TOKYO — When Abbas Karimi first plunged into a pool, the cool water provided welcome respite from the heat of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.
It provided a feeling of independence and safety to Mr. Karimi, 24, who was born without arms. Mr. Karimi, one of six athletes participating for the Refugee Paralympic Team in Tokyo, was inspired by swimming to leave Afghanistan when he was 16 years old.
He wanted to prepare for international competition without the everyday threat of conflict and terrorism after winning a national title in his country.
In a recent interview on Zoom, he said, “I wanted to be someplace secure where I could keep training and be a Paralympic champion.”
Mr. Karimi, one of two flag bearers for the refugee team, led the parade of countries into the stadium at the Paralympics’ opening ceremony on Tuesday night, eight years after fleeing Afghanistan.
He is one of millions of Afghans who left the country’s turmoil even before the present crisis. Because Afghanistan’s paralympic delegation was unable to travel to Tokyo due to the turmoil surrounding the Taliban takeover and the US departure, he may be the sole Afghan athlete competing at the Games.
During a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Tuesday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) answered questions from reporters on the security situation and evacuations in Afghanistan. Credit… The New York Times/Sarahbeth Maney
The resettling of Afghan friends in the United States has exposed a schism within the Republican Party between anti-immigrants and those who wish to assist the refugees.
Many Republican leaders have accused President Biden of abandoning Afghan translators and guides who assisted the US throughout the war’s two decades, leaving thousands of Afghans in limbo in a nation now under Taliban control.
Others, like former President Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have chastised Mr. Biden for allowing dangerous people into the country.
According to two individuals who were on the line, Mr. McCarthy warned last week on a conversation with a bipartisan group of House members that “we’ll have terrorists pouring over the border,” in which he raged about the Biden administration’s handling of the pullout.
Traditional conservatives, who are more likely to support people who have made sacrifices for America, are pitted against the anti-immigrant side of the party in this argument. It’s also a new test of Mr. Trump’s ability to persuade Republican leaders to support him.
According to a survey, the segment of Republicans who favor admitting Afghan refugees to the United States is now bigger than the one warning of possible risks associated with their resettlement.