The first batch of French evacuees from Afghanistan have arrived in Paris this Tuesday evening amid ongoing efforts to transport diplomats, humanitarians, journalists and others from a country now under Taliban control.
Updated: 19h40 UT
On board an Airbus A310 that arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport were 45 French nationals and people from partner countries who were earlier flown by military aircraft from Kabul to Abu Dhabi.
Defence Minister Florence Parly said France had laid the foundations for “an air bridge” between Kabul and the United Arab Emirates to facilitate the repatriation efforts.
RFI correspondent Sonia Ghezali, reporting from the French embassy at Kabul airport, said some 400 people of several nationalities were awaiting evacuation – about a hundred of whom had French papers.
“Feminists, public figures, artists and gay people without visas have flocked to the embassy,” Ghezali said.
Authorities in Paris said several dozen French citizens still remain in Afghanistan.
Evacuations by France and other countries were made possible late Monday after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands of people desperate to escape Taliban militants who rapidly overran the country.
At least five civilians were killed at the airport, now under the control of the US military.
The Taliban, who seized control of the capital without a fight, have sought to present a more moderate image to the world.
On Tuesday they announced an amnesty for Afghan officials, who were urged to return to work.
Speaking on state television, a Taliban official also called on women to join government, saying the “Islamic Emirate” did not want them to be victims.
However few women could be seen in public as armed Taliban fighters patrolled the streets of the capital following their takeover.
“The experience of women in Afghanistan is once again one of fear,” said Jerusalem correspondent Irris Makler, who reported from Afghanistan during the Taliban’s defeat in 2001 and again in 2004.
“You can see the terror in people's faces.”
Female news anchors on Tuesday reappeared on Afghan TV networks, with one member of the Taliban interviewed by presenter Beheshta Arghand on the national Tolo news channel.
“Not every woman was sent scurrying home, but they are very, very wary and are waiting to see what the Taliban will do next,” Makler told RFI.
Amid concerns of an influx of Afghan refugees to Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced plans to push for cooperation deals with countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.
"We must anticipate and protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows that would endanger those who use them and feed trafficking of all kinds,” Macron said.
The Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan – coming on the heels of US promises for continued support for Afghan soldiers – has revived doubts about the credibility of US foreign policy.
However US President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw US forces, blaming the Taliban's takeover on Afghan leaders and the Afghan army.