US sending more consular officers to aid Kabul evacuation

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The US State Department on Thursday said it was surging consular officers to Kabul and other locations, including Qatar and Kuwait, to help with the evacuation effort from Afghanistan as thousands of people have desperately tried to reach the airport after the Taliban seized Kabul on Sunday.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said 6,000 people are currently at the airport in Kabul fully processed and waiting to board planes, adding Washington will nearly double the number of consular officers in Kabul, without revealing how many are actually deployed.

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The department is also sending consular staffing teams to Qatar and Kuwait to help with the transit effort and is preparing teams to go to other processing locations as well, Price said.

The US overnight “significantly expanded” how many American citizens, locally employed staff, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and other vulnerable Afghans who are eligible for departure, Price said, adding that about 20 flights will leave Kabul on Thursday night.

The US and other Western powers are pressing on with the evacuation from Afghanistan of their nationals and some of their Afghan staff from Kabul airport.

Thousands of people have desperately tried to get past Taliban roadblocks and US troops to reach the airport. On Thursday the Taliban urged crowds of Afghans waiting outside it to return home, saying they did not want to hurt anyone, a day after firing at protesters and killing three.

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