A technical team has been able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid and it would be prepared for civilian flights soon, according to Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan.
The runway at the Kabul airport has been repaired in cooperation with authorities in Afghanistan, the ambassador added.
Meanwhile, at least 17 people were killed in celebratory gunfire in Kabul, news agencies and hospital sources said, as a Taliban spokesman criticised the aerial shootings in a statement.
“Avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in a message on Twitter. “Bullets can harm civilians, so don’t shoot unnecessarily.”
The United States Congress is expected to finance the United Nations’ humanitarian work in Afghanistan but is unlikely to directly fund a new Taliban-led government, according to US officials, as the world body prepares to discuss aid for the war-torn country.
UN chief Antonio Guterres is travelling to Geneva to convene a high-level conference on aid for Afghanistan on September 13.
Even before the Taliban victory, Afghanistan was heavily aid-dependent, with 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) drawn from foreign funding.
The Taliban has yet to form a government, but there have been reports that an announcement is imminent.
Meanwhile, fighting continues between the Taliban and resistance fighters in Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, raising fears of more civilians being displaced.
Here are the latest updates:
Fewer than 1,400 evacuees still at Qatar base: US general
The United States has moved most of the 57,000 people it evacuated from Afghanistan to Qatar out of the Gulf state, with fewer than 1,400 still at the US military base there, a US general said on Saturday.
The US evacuated roughly 124,000 people from Kabul last month as part of a huge US-led airlift of its citizens, Afghans and other nationals as the Taliban took control of the country.
Brigadier General Gerald Donohue told reporters some of those who had been flown out of Qatar were now in the US, while others were in Europe, where they are being processed.
Fresh fighting reported in Panjshir
Fresh fighting was reported between the Taliban and resistance forces in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, according to the AFP news agency.
Panjshir, which held out for nearly a decade against the Soviet Union’s occupation and also the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001, is the last area holding out against Taliban in the country.
Kabul airport reopens to receive aid: Qatari ambassador
Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan said a technical team was able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid and that it would be prepared for civilian flights soon.
The runway at Kabul airport has been repaired in cooperation with authorities in Afghanistan, the ambassador said. Two domestic flights were also recently operated from Kabul to the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.
UN to convene Afghanistan aid conference on September 13
The United Nations will convene an international aid conference in Geneva on September 13 to help avert what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”.
“We need the international community to stand together and support the Afghan people,” Guterres said in a post on Twitter announcing the conference that he said would seek a swift scale-up in funding for humanitarian relief.
“We also appeal for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need,” he said.
Now more than ever, Afghan children, women & men need support & solidarity from the international community.
I will convene a high-level humanitarian conference for Afghanistan on 13 September to advocate for a swift scale-up in funding & full, unimpeded access to those in need. pic.twitter.com/nOnoNFCEuy
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 3, 2021
Chief of Pakistan’s ISI arrives in Kabul
The chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, Faiz Hamid, has arrived in Kabul. Hamid is the first high-ranking foreign official to visit Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. He is accompanied by a delegation of senior Pakistani officials.
Hamid’s arrival on Saturday has raised criticism among Afghans online. Pakistan and the ISI have been accused by many of aiding and abetting the Taliban.
Aerial gunfire takes lives in Kabul
Late on Friday evening, the Kabul sky was filled with aerial gunfire believed to be celebratory. The exact reasoning for the gunfire remains unclear and several rumours were posted online, but the Taliban offered no official explanation. According to the Emergency Hospital in Kabul, at least 17 people were killed by the aerial fire and 41 others were injured.
Celebratory gunfire is a common tradition in Afghanistan. On August 31, when the US finally withdrew its forces, the Taliban also unleashed a barrage of gunfire, but quickly offered an explanation.
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, issued a ban on aerial fire through his Twitter account, saying people should “thank God instead” of firing into the air.
This is what Kabul sounds like right now pic.twitter.com/QxaS8wWrfi
— Ali M Latifi (@alibomaye) September 3, 2021
Colourful murals disappearing from streets of Kabul
Murals painted by Afghan artists are slowly disappearing from the streets of Kabul, as the Taliban returned to rule Afghanistan.
Omaid H Sharifi, curator and artist, noted in a social media post that among the murals painted over in recent days was a piece depicting the historic Doha deal that showed US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar.
A BBC report said most of the murals are now being painted over with white paint, with slogans praising Taliban fighters for the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years.
And it begun. The Taliban have started painting over our murals. They started with the historic one that marked the signing of #DohaDeal. #BaradarKhalilzadMural is no more. Instead, the black and white message says don’t trust the enemy’s propaganda, quoting Mullah Haibatullah. pic.twitter.com/Pls4McUQkj
— Omaid H. Sharifi-امید حفیظه شریفی (@OmaidSharifi) September 3, 2021
Iran ‘returns’ most of US-made military equipment to Taliban
US-made Afghan military equipment, including armoured vehicles, which crossed into Iranian territory during the advance of the Taliban have been returned to the country’s new rulers.
Amwaj Media, which covers news from the Middle East, quoted an Iranian source as saying that “almost everything” operated by former Afghan army soldiers, who escaped to Iran, were turned over to the Taliban following the US withdrawal.
Images posted on social media in recent weeks showed the US-made vehicles owned by the Afghan military crossing the border into Iran.
NEW: “As a result of the collapse of the #Afghan military, more than 2,000 armored vehicles as well as dozens of aircraft and drones are now believed to be in the hands of the #Taliban.” https://t.co/7jppPxlMnk via @amwajmedia
— Amwaj.media (@amwajmedia) September 3, 2021
Afghan women wary as Taliban rule returns
Many Afghan women in the city of Jalalabad have expressed concerns about the return of Taliban rule in the country, even as the armed group gave assurance that it has changed its ways.
Mushkan Babri, a teacher in Jalalabad, told Al Jazeera’s Osama bin Javaid that while she understands people’s fears, she has decided to stay in the country and study to become a doctor.
Female health workers have also returned to work at the Nangarhar Regional Hospital, even as the Taliban imposed new rules on gender segregation.
“Nearly all the women we have spoken to said that they are nervous about what will happen under the Taliban,” Javaid said, quoting the same women as saying that the Taliban members have been “respectful” since they returned to the city as rulers.
Third flight from Qatar lands in Kabul
A third Qatari plane carrying technical staff and equipment has landed in Kabul to assist with the operation of the country’s premier airport, according to Al Jazeera Arabic.
Qatar’s special envoy for conflict resolution Mutlaq al-Qahtani was also on board the flight.
According to the report, the Kabul airport is now being prepared for the resumption of regular flights in the coming days.
— قناة الجزيرة (@AJArabic) September 3, 2021
Afghan infant dies after evacuation flight to US
A nine-month-old Afghan girl has reportedly died following an evacuation flight to the US city of Philadelphia, TV news channel ABC reported on Friday night.
The baby reportedly became unresponsive mid-flight and was rushed to the emergency upon the plane’s arrival. ABC News reported that she died on Wednesday night.
The baby girl had arrived in the US with her family from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where they had landed after leaving Kabul.
Google locks Afghan gov’t accounts as Taliban seeks emails: Reuters
Reuters is reporting that Google has temporarily locked down an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts, as fears grow about the digital paper trail left by former officials and their international partners.
There have been fears that biometric databases could be exploited by the new Taliban rulers to hunt their enemies.
Google stopped short of confirming the move but said the company was monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and “taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts”.
One employee of the former Afghan government has told Reuters that the Taliban is seeking to acquire former officials’ emails, and had asked him to preserve the data held on the servers of the ministry he used to work for.
US to provide trauma counselling for Afghan refugees
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said his department is looking to improve the conditions of Afghan refugees awaiting resettlement.
“I have met with more than 40 community-based organisations, including Afghan-American organisations to learn of their ideas and recommendations,” Mayorkas said on Friday. “I have heard, and we will operationalise more robustly their recommendations – including cultural competency, access to counsel, trauma counselling and pastoral care.”
UN chief to hold aid meeting for Afghanistan
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will hold an international meeting in Geneva on September 13 to raise humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
“The conference will advocate for a swift scale-up in funding so the lifesaving humanitarian operation can continue; and appeal for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need,” Dujarric said in a statement.
“Afghanistan faces a looming humanitarian catastrophe. Nearly half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.”
Taliban officials meet Pakistani ambassador in Qatar
A Taliban delegation in Qatar led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai met Pakistani Ambassador Syed Ahsan Raza Shah, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Friday.
“Both sides discussed the current Afghan situation, humanitarian assistance, bilateral relations based on mutual interest and respect, reconstruction of Afghanistan and issues related to facilitating people’s movement at Torkhan and Spinboldak,” Shaheen wrote on Twitter, referring to border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s embassy in Doha confirmed the meeting.
Amb Syed Ahsan Raza Shah welcomed 7 member high level TPC delegation headed by H.E Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanakzai at Emb of Pak, Doha. Matters related to latest devs & biltrl interests discussed. It was agreed to continue regular mutual contacts. @ForeignOfficePk @SMQureshiPTI pic.twitter.com/IQhiwyk9XB
— Pakistan Embassy Qatar (@PakinQatar) September 3, 2021