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Kabul flights take off for Aussies

Australia extraction Kabul
Australia has evacuated more than 5150 people since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August. Photo: AAP
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Almost 170 Australian citizens and permanent residents remain in Afghanistan as evacuations continue following the Taliban takeover.

There were 87 citizens and 82 permanent residents in the country as of November 12 but evacuations are ramping up as flights out of the capital Kabul become more feasible.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has secured seats for Australians on three flights arranged by the Qatar government.

“Each day those figures … continue to fall,” acting deputy secretary Simon Newnham told a Senate inquiry on Monday.

“We are very much focused on international flights out of Kabul … and as that becomes a more commercial (and) viable option, we expect to see increases in the numbers departing via those flights.”

Some people are continuing to present at land borders against the recommendation of Australian officials.

Just under 900 people crossed the Pakistan border and a small number has presented in Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

About 80 Australian citizens, permanent residents and visa holders made their way to capital cities across Europe and the Middle East.

Australia has evacuated more than 5150 people since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August.

Amnesty InteSrnational has criticised Australia’s humanitarian response to the crisis as “woefully inadequate”.

It wants more support and aid for the millions of Afghans facing starvation and human rights abuses.

The non-profit organisation is also calling on Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to take an additional 20,000 Afghan refugees.

“The scale of the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan cannot be underestimated,” refugee adviser Graham Thom said.

“Day after day the situation gets worse for countless thousands of people and yet there has been effectively radio silence from the Australian government since the last Australian flight left the airport in Kabul,” Dr Thom said.

“Why are we leaving it up to other countries to do all the heavy lifting?”

– AAP