Irish diplomats supported by military deploy to Afghanistan to aid evacuation

A team of Irish diplomats supported by the military has deployed to Afghanistan to help evacuate remaining citizens in the country.

An Emergency Consular Assistance Team (ECAT) travelled to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday evening.

It aims to assist the remaining Irish citizens who wish to evacuate from Afghanistan.

The department said 10 Irish citizens have already been evacuated with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Those seeking evacuation have been described as mainly family groups.

The ECAT will consist of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Defence Forces personnel.

Some 36 Irish citizens and family members remained in the country.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: “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 HKIA.

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

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “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.

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

Meanwhile the first refugee family from Afghanistan has arrived in Ireland.

The family arrived in Dublin on a flight on Monday evening.

The Irish Government had issued more than 200 visas or visa waivers to Afghan nationals over the past week.

“Priority has been given to those working on human rights issues, including the rights of women, girls, and minorities as well as those working with NGOs and European and international organisations,” the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said in a statement.

“Separately, the Department of Justice is also prioritising the processing of family reunification and visa applications for Afghan nationals, which is expected to result in a further approximately 150 people being granted permission to enter Ireland.”