The Taliban will not extend the 31 August deadline for the current evacuation mission. Delaying the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan would be “great in the short term” but world leaders also need to think more longer term, says Rory Stewart, who used to be the UK’s international development secretary. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask US President Joe Biden to give US forces more time to leave Afghanistan, at an emergency gathering of leaders from the G7 countries tomorrow. Several thousand Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for British forces are eligible to come to the UK, but many are stuck at Kabul airport as they attempt to flee the Taliban.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that more than 500 tonnes of medical supplies due for delivery in Afghanistan are stuck outside of the country due to chaos at Kabul airport. Aid officials say the supplies, including surgical equipment and malnutrition kits, are needed to help hundreds of thousands of people displaced by recent violence. Thousands of people have left the country in recent days, but commercial flights have ceased. “While the eyes of the world now are on the people being evacuated and the planes leaving, we need to get supplies in to help those who are left behind,” WHO spokeswoman Inas Hamam said in a statement to Reuters. The UN health organisation wants empty planes to divert to Dubai to pick up supplies on their way to pick up refugees.
Iran restarted exports of petrol to Afghanistan a few days ago, following a request from the Taliban, according to Iran’s Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products Exporters’ Union. The price of petrol in Afghanistan reached $900 (£657) per tonne last week as many panicked Afghans fled cities in fear of the Taliban. To counter the price spike, the group asked Iran to keep the borders open for traders. “The Taliban sent messages to Iran saying ‘you can continue the exports of petroleum products’,” Hamid Hosseini, a board member and spokesperson at the Iranian union, told Reuters, adding that some Iranian traders had been cautious due to security concerns. Iranian exports began a few days ago, after the Taliban cut tariffs on imports of fuel from Iran up to 70 per cent, Mr Hosseini added. The Taliban has reportedly reclaim three districts in northern Afghanistan, shortly after they were taken by local militia groups. On Monday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the hardline Islamist group, said Taliban rule had resumed in Badakhshan, Takhar and Andarab near the Panjshir valley.