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Irish evacuees returning through France and Finland after departure from Kabul

Another 60 Irish citizens are still in the country, with operations to evacuate civilians now “effectively closed”.

IRISH PEOPLE EVACUATED from Afghanistan are currently travelling home with the French and Finnish militaries.

Two flights carrying Irish citizens left Kabul airport yesterday, with both planes landing outside of the country.

An Irish mission of Army Rangers and two diplomats – an Emergency Consular Assistance Team (ECAT) that landed in Afghanistan earlier this week evacuated 26 Irish people on top of a previous 10 who had already exited.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney outlined that “our citizens left on two separate flights yesterday”.

“At about half 11 yesterday morning, the French flight left, and that was predominantly our ECAT team of Army Rangers and one diplomat,” Coveney said.

“They’re flying home via Abu Dhabi. They’re currently in Abu Dhabi, that’s my understanding, and we’ll look to get them home as quickly as we can,” he said.

“The French are going to facilitate that, or at least bring them to Paris.”

The minister said that the other Irish people evacuated “are flying from Kabul to Helsinki with the Finnish military and they stopped in Tbilisi [in Georgia] on the way”.

“There’s one diplomat and two rangers who are accompanying 15 other Irish nationals and their dependents on that flight,” he said.

“They will arrive today in Helsinki and we will work with them to make sure that they get on commercial flights, predominantly into Dublin.”

However, around 60 Irish citizens and their families are still in Afghanistan, as well as 15 Afghan citizens with Irish residency.

“Most of them are in Kabul and we are in contact with all of those families, and we will stay in contact with them for as long as it takes,” Coveney said.

The Irish embassy in Abu Dhabi, the closest to Afghanistan, are involved with that process, but a team is also to be set up in Dublin to help to facilitate communication with the families.

“There are 15 Afghan citizens who are residents in Ireland, so people who would have been living in Ireland as Afghan citizens, some of them working here who would have gone home to Afghanistan for holidays or to see family and so on,” he said.

“We’re effectively treating them as Irish citizens as well and we will be working with all of those who want to leave Afghanistan to help them find ways of doing that.

But the truth is this is going to be an effort that many many countries are involved in, it will be an international community effort to ensure that foreign nationals who are in Afghanistan who want to get out will be facilitated in doing that, and that is going to be ongoing work in the days and weeks ahead.”

“In the immediate future I think we’re going to see a focus on exiting Kabul airport.” safely.

The Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia have already left Afghanistan and Coveney said he expects France and the UK to leave today.

“The operations to evacuate civilians out of Kabul airport are effectively closed now.”

Australia’s defence minister has said it pulled its troops out of the country because of intelligence about the safety risk to the airport.

Two blasts at the airport yesterday killed at least 72 people.

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