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Sunday October 24, 2021

Spain expects second planeload of Afghan refugees from Pakistan

Around 160 people to arrive at the Torrejon de Ardoz military airbase outside Madrid by the second flight

AFP
October 12, 2021
Passengers leave to board on a Pakistan International Airlines plane at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 13, 2021. Photo — AFP
Passengers leave to board on a Pakistan International Airlines plane at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 13, 2021. Photo — AFP

MADRID: A second flight carrying Afghan refugees was expected to arrive in Spain on Tuesday from Pakistan a day after a first flight for people who worked for Madrid in the war-torn country, a government source said.

Tuesday’s arrival with around 160 people was scheduled for around 7pm (1700 GMT) at the Torrejon de Ardoz military airbase outside Madrid, government sources said on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, 84 people had arrived on the first plane, the sources added.

Spanish evacuations have been weeks in the making, with Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares visiting Pakistan and Qatar in early September to lay the groundwork.

Madrid evacuated more than 2,000 people, most of them were Afghans who had worked for Spain and their families, during the western withdrawal as the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August.

But the flights had to stop once the last American troops, who had been protecting the Kabul airport, left.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Friday urged the bloc’s member states to host a "minimum" of between 10,000 and 20,000 more Afghan refugees.

"To welcome them, we have to evacuate them, and we’re getting down to it, but it’s not easy," he said in Madrid.

The EU has said a demand by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to take in 42,500 Afghan refugees over five years can be achieved — although any decision lies with member states.