Boris Johnson convenes G7 meeting, says ‘vital to support Afghan people’
The announcement by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes after his recent statement that the country’s commitment to Afghanistan is "lasting” and that it will work with the Taliban, if necessary.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday took to Twitter to announce that he will convene a meeting with the Group of Seven (G7) leaders on Tuesday for “urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan”.
“It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years,” he wrote in the post on the microblogging site.
His statement comes after the British defence ministry earlier in the day said that at least seven Afghan nationals have been killed in the crowds near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as tens of thousands of people tried to escape from Afghanistan and the Islamist militant group Taliban’s regime.
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the statement read.
Britain’s Sky News chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who was at the Kabul airport on Sunday, said that people were “crushed to death” at the front of the queue, while others were “dehydrated and terrified".
Meanwhile, an official of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Sunday said that at least 20 people have lost their lives in and around the Hamid Karzai airport due to the evacuation currently underway following the Taliban regaining power after 20 years.
The NATO official further stated that the crisis outside the Kabul Airport, which is being guarded by US troops, is “unfortunate.” “Our focus is to evacuate all foreign nationals from the city as soon as we can. Our forces are keeping a safe distance from the outer areas of the airport to prevent any possible clashes with the Taliban,” the official said.
Various reports have suggested that the insurgents are present at the checkpoints leading up to the Kabul airport.
Johnson’s statement to convene a G7 meeting – which includes the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, comes after he said on Friday that the UK will work with Taliban “if necessary” to find solutions to the Afghanistan conflict.
“What I want to assure people is that our political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for Afghanistan, working with the Taliban, of course, if necessary, will go on and our commitment to Afghanistan is lasting,” he told the media following an emergency Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBRA) meeting focussed on Afghanistan.
The UK PM though accepted that the “logistical challenges” at the Kabul airport are “formidable,” he noted that British troops are doing an “outstanding job in very difficult circumstances.”
The Johnson-led government on Tuesday announced the Afghanistan Resettlement and Assistance Programme (ARAP) under which Afghan citizens, who have worked for the UK in Afghanistan, will be permitted to reside in the European nation over a period of five years. As many as 5,000 Afghans will be rendered refuge in the first year itself. The government has also announced 5 million pounds for local councils in England, Wales and Scotland offering to house Afghan nationals who arrived in the UK under ARAP.