CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia has taken in more than 3,500 evacuees from Afghanistan, mostly women and children, after the Taliban overran the country last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
An international airlift began on Aug. 14 as the Islamist militants arrived at the gates of Kabul, having already captured most of the country. As part of that effort, Australia evacuated 4,100 citizens and Afghans with visas, though some with dual nationality chose to go elsewhere.
Many of those evacuated were transferred to the United Arab Emirates to await relocation to Australia, and Morrison said the last flight arrived late on Wednesday on the last leg of an escape from “one of the most desperate and most dangerous parts in the world”.
“Of those 3,500 some 2,500 are women and children,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Australia was part of a NATO-led international force that trained Afghan security forces and fought the Taliban for two decades after Western-backed forces ousted the Islamist militants from power in 2001. More than 39,000 Australian troops served in Afghanistan and 41 were killed.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)