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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Kabul airport to gradually reopen, about 90% ready: Qatar’s special envoy

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Since last week, Qatari and Turkish technical teams have been working at Kabul’s airport to resume their civilian flights.

Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport is about 90% ready and will gradually reopen, a Qatari official confirmed on Thursday.

Dr. Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, Qatar’s Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, announced the airport’s reopening shortly after he met with the Taliban spokesman in Kabul Zabihullah Mujahid.

Another Qatari official speaking to journalists, quoted by Reuters, said that there would be a flight on Friday.

On Thursday, the first international commercial flight arrived at Kabul from Doha, signaling hope over the return to normalcy at the airport for the first time since the 31 August deadline for the troop withdrawal.

“For the first time, international flights will be coming from Doha to Kabul,” Dr. Al Qahtani revealed.

On Thursday, the first international commercial flight arrived at Kabul from Doha, signaling hope over the return to normalcy at the airport for the first time since the 31 August deadline for the troop withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Khaama Press reported that the airport is operational for international flights from Thursday, citing Taliban officials and foreign technical teams at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Turkey ‘working to resume flights’ at Kabul airport

The report added that the damages the teams had to fix at the airport amounted to at least $20 million, accusing the US marines of sabotaging the place. Qatar also donated large screens, computers, scanners, and electronic equipment needed at the airport.

The presence of the Qatari and technical teams in Afghanistan came following a request by the Taliban to repair damages at the airport to make it safe for travel once more.

In the past week, Qatar has also been sending batches of aid to Kabul to help alleviate food security concerns after discussions with the Taliban to ensure the airport is open for humanitarian assistance.

“What has been fixed is already making the airport capable of receiving charter flights. We’re starting the humanitarian aid flights as a test,” Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a press conference on Tuesday.

The international community has emphasised the need to resume flights at the airport as many Afghans and foreigners wish to leave.

Taliban authorities have also allowed 200 American civilians and people holding other nationalities to depart on charter flights from Kabul, a US official speaking on the condition of anonymity told Reuters.

According to the official, US Special Representative to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad pressed the Taliban to allow people to exit the country. However, it remains unclear whether the said passengers are among those stranded in Mazar-i-Sharif.


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