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Army Rangers being sent to Kabul to help with evacuation of Irish citizens

They are expected to arrive into Kabul on Thursday.

Hungarian soldiers escorting evacuees to a Hungarian Air Force plane in Kabul last week.
Hungarian soldiers escorting evacuees to a Hungarian Air Force plane in Kabul last week.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Aug 23rd 2021, 8:56 PM

MEMBERS OF IRELAND’s elite Army Ranger Wing are being sent to Kabul, where they will assist in the evacuation of the last remaining Irish citizens there. 

A group of soldiers, along with at least two high-ranking officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, are heading to Afghanistan.

They are due to travel through Paris, and travel with the French military to Kabul. 

It is expected that the members of the Defence Forces will be on the ground in Kabul by Thursday. 

There they will be coordinating with other international militaries to ensure Irish citizens get a space on the planes leaving Kabul. 

In a statement this evening, Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney said his department was setting up an Emergency Consular Assistance Team (ECAT) with a view to assisting the remaining Irish citizens who wish to evacuate from Afghanistan.

“The ECAT will consist of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Defence Forces personnel.  This is a consular assistance mission with Defence Forces providing security and support to the consular staff,” the statement reads.

Minister Coveney said this evening: “Good progress has been made to-date in evacuating Irish citizens from Afghanistan. My view is that further progress requires a short deployment of a consular team to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA).

“The security situation for citizens attempting to access to airport remains extremely volatile. Citizens should continue to follow the consular advice given to them directly by our Embassy in Abu Dhabi.” 

The Army Ranger Wing is a unit within the Defence Forces. Its roles are divided into conventional warfare roles and specialist anti-terror roles.

For example, rangers are trained in anti-hijack operations as well as hostage rescue operations to name just two.

Citizens

Ten Irish people have so far been evacuated from Afghanistan, the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.

Earlier it emerged that 36 Irish citizens and their family members are still waiting to leave the country.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the department remains “in close contact” with these individuals.

“The situation remains volatile and access to the airport continues to be a problem. Work continues on options for evacuation, the department is in ongoing contact with EU and other partners on the ground in Kabul,” the spokesperson said.

There are also a small number of Irish citizens who are working for UN and international organisations and currently plan to stay in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the Defence Forces said: “Óglaigh na hÉireann does not comment on specific operational deployments. ”

Yesterday, Coveney said the situation at Kabul airport continues to be volatile and encouraged Irish citizens not to travel there unless advised to by the Irish embassy.

Coveney said: “The situation at the airport yesterday was really chaotic and on the outskirts of the airport it was very tragic – a number of people were killed in crowds being crushed.

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“The advice to citizens is to listen to the advice they are getting from our embassy team and not to travel to the airport without instruction or advice to do that.

“This is a very difficult and complicated situation for all of the countries that are present in Kabul airport trying to get their citizens out.”

- Additional reporting Garreth MacNamee and Christina Finn

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