It's Tough to Get Out of Kabul, but These Americans Just Did

Charter flight thought to have dozens of US citizens heads to Qatar amid flight groundings by Taliban
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2022 6:29 AM CST
Flight With American Evacuees Leaves Kabul
In this Sept. 9, 2021, photo, a Qatar Airways aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

(Newser) – Since November, Americans have had a tough time getting out of Kabul after the Taliban grounded most flights. This week, a chartered flight paid for by the US State Department and run by Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was finally able to depart the Afghan capital for Qatar with more than 30 Americans on board, sources tell NBC News. A government official has confirmed the flight to Doha, though was vague on the number of Americans.

Before the evacuation flights were halted, there were about one or two chartered flights each week heading for Qatar, according to US officials and refugee groups. But then the Taliban started demanding seats on those flights for Taliban fighters and loyalists, and Qatar rebuffed that request. That's when the Taliban started nixing flights. It's not clear if the Taliban will now resume clearing other flights to leave Kabul.

Earlier this month, State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN there were about 80 Americans in Afghanistan who still wanted out—and about 150 who wanted to stay—and suggested that all who wanted to leave would eventually be able to. "Our commitment to Americans is sacrosanct, and we're continuing to work very closely not only with them but also with our partners, including the Qataris, with whom we've worked on these relocation efforts," Price said at the time.

The National Review and UPI note there are private organizations that have had some success in getting Americans and Afghans who've helped the US government out of Kabul, though it's been made much more difficult in recent weeks. "We're essentially doing the US government's job alongside our daily day jobs—with very little resources and very little money," an organizer for Task Force Argo, a group made up of US veterans and private citizens, tells UPI. More here on that group's efforts, and the logistical challenges underlying them. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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