Kabul evacuation flight arrives in Belgium

A group of Afghan nationals arrive on the tarmac after disembarking from a chartered Air Belgium airplane at the military airport in Melsbroek near Brussels, on August 23, 2021. – The Belgian military evacuation mission ‘Operation Red Kite’ flies defense cargo planes back and forth between the Pakistani capital Islamabad and Kabul in Afghanistan, to get Belgians and their families, but also Afghans such as interpreters, fixers and employees of human rights organizations safely out of Afghanistan. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

MELSBROEK, Belgium (AFP) — A charter flight arrived at a Belgian air base outside Brussels on Monday carrying 193 people escaping the chaos in Kabul.

The Air Belgium jet brought the escapees — including Belgians and Afghans who worked for international missions — from an Islamabad base acting as a staging post for Belgium’s military airlift from the Afghan capital.

AFP and other media at the Belgian air base saw people disembarking from the plane and heading to four waiting grey military buses. Many of the women wore headscarves and there were several small children.

Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said Sunday that Belgium’s Operation Red Kite has already brought 400 people from Kabul’s airport, which has been secured by US and allied troops, to Pakistan.

Monday’s charter was the first evacuation back to Belgian soil.

The arrivals were to be transferred from the Melsbroek base, home of Belgium’s 15th Air Transport Wing, to a military base in Peutie for health checks and security screening.

Belgium is one of several NATO and EU member states that are scrambling to rescue vulnerable foreign staff and Afghan allies from Afghanistan since the Taliban overran the capital just over a week ago.

© Agence France-Presse