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First group of evacuees from Afghanistan arrives in Spain

Five Spaniards arrived in Spain, along with 48 Afghan collaborators
Arrival in Spain of Spanish and Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan

POOL MONCLOA/FERNANDO CALVO  -   Arrival in Spain of Spanish and Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan

The first evacuation mission from Afghanistan carried out by a Spanish military aircraft has been completed with the arrival at the Torrejón Air Base in Madrid of the Spanish Army's A400M aircraft, which on Wednesday travelled to Kabul to begin the collection of Spanish citizens present in the Asian country and Afghan collaborators who collaborated with them. 

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Spanish Armed Forces aircraft landed with a contingent of 53 people, of which 48 were Afghan nationals and 5 were Spanish citizens.

This flight marked the end of the first phase of evacuation to Spain from the Asian country for all the people who are not essential for carrying out the evacuation operation. 

Llegada a España de evacuados españoles y afganos procedentes de Afganistán
POOL MONCLOA/FERNANDO CALVO - Arrival in Spain of Spanish and Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan

This Friday, a new Spanish military plane is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan to continue completing the rescue operation and then, as confirmed by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, it will be the turn of a medicalised plane to take and attend to those people who need medical assistance or are injured. 

The Spanish Army plane was received on the same runway of the Torrejón Air Base by José Manuel Albares, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and José Luis Escrivá, Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. The Afghans evacuated from their country by the Spanish government will stay for a maximum of 72 hours in the camp set up at the military base in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) and will subsequently be distributed among state reception centres while their asylum request is being processed, as reported by the EFE news agency. The Minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, explained that it will not be necessary to resort to the formal offer of reception made by five autonomous communities - Cantabria, Extremadura, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Murcia - as well as the Barcelona City Council, as the state can provide them with shelter. The Afghan refugees also underwent antigen tests to detect possible cases of COVID-19, with the assistance of the Ministry of Health and the Red Cross, and after data verification, their asylum request will be processed. 

Llegada a España de evacuados españoles y afganos procedentes de Afganistán
POOL MONCLOA/FERNANDO CALVO - Arrival in Spain of Spanish and Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan

Initially, there was an initial list of about 400 people to be rescued, but this number has been increased to 800 in order to save as many people as possible. On the other hand, 17 Spanish special police forces are searching the Afghan capital for anyone who could be rescued who might be under Spanish responsibility and who have not yet appeared for fear of what is happening in the Afghan country. 

Llegada a España de evacuados españoles y afganos procedentes de Afganistán
POOL MONCLOA/FERNANDO CALVO - Arrival in Spain of Spanish and Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan

The situation has become very tense in the last few hours after the Taliban seized power. After a dizzying operation to conquer several provinces, facilitated by the departure of the international troops present on the ground, they arrived in Kabul to negotiate a transfer of power with the Afghan government and thus take control of the country. Many people fear for their safety and their lives in Afghanistan in the face of possible reprisals by the Taliban or the possible establishment of a political and social system subject to a strict view of Islamic law. 

Llegada a España de evacuados españoles y afganos procedentes de Afganistán
POOL MONCLOA/FERNANDO CALVO - Arrival in Spain of Spanish and Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan

Meanwhile, as already reported by various media outlets such as the newspaper La Vanguardia, the acting ambassador to Afghanistan, Gabriel Ferrán, who resigned from his post on 5 August, will remain in Kabul to continue organising the necessary requirements to organise the return of the people under Spain's responsibility. The new ambassador, Ricardo Losa, was scheduled to travel to the Afghan capital this week, but the events in Afghanistan disrupted all plans.