Afghan refugee crisis goes global: Hapless evacuees hope for a place as countries scramble for solutions

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The United Nations has warned that up to half a million Afghans could flee the country by the end of the year and has called on neighbouring countries to keep their borders open.

The current crisis comes on top of the 2.2 million Afghan refugees already in neighbouring countries and 3.5 million people forced to flee their homes within Afghanistan’s borders.

The United States-led operation to evacuate people by air has now ended, with the last flight taking off from Kabul airport just after midnight on Tuesday — a deadline agreed with the Taliban for foreign forces to withdraw.

More than 123,000 civilians were evacuated by US forces and its coalition partners after the Taliban took control of the capital on 14 August — but it’s unclear exactly how many of those were Afghan nationals.

The US has said that it flew nearly 80,000 civilians out of Kabul and of those, about 5,500 were Americans and more than 73,500 were either Afghans or other foreign nationals. The UK Ministry of Defence, which ended its evacuations on Saturday, said it had flown out more than 15,000 people and some 8,000 of them were Afghans.

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