Since the Taliban came to power, questions regarding the provision of aid to Afghanistan have emerged.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is working on providing aid to Afghanistan despite existing sanctions on members of the Taliban, the Washington official said during a press conference in Doha on Tuesday.
“We are determined to continue providing assistance to the Afghan people consistent with existing sanctions,” said Blinken.
Blinken and US Defence Minister Lloyd Austin met their Qatari counterparts Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah in the Qatari capital this week.
Earlier, the US officials met with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to thank him for Qatar’s efforts in assisting evacuations from Afghanistan.
Similar sentiments were shared at the presser on Tuesday morning.
“Qatar went above and beyond, and your generosity helped us save thousands of life…we couldn’t have done it without Qatar,” said Austin, commenting on Operation Allies Refuge, the largest airlift of people in history.
Since the Taliban took over Kabul on 15 August, Qatar has worked to ensure that evacuations are conducted in a safe and timely manner as chaos erupted at Hamid Karzai International airport.
Qatar’s FM told the press that the Gulf state has successfully evacuated at least 58,000 people, most of which have already reached their final destination. The remaining evacuees are safely awaiting the processing of their documents.
Sheikh Mohammed also said undocumented evacuees will be receiving all required support.
Despite ending the US ending its military presence in Afghanistan hours ahead of the 31 August deadline, some 100 Americans remain in the country awaiting to be evacuated.
On Monday, the US helped transfer four citizens from the country in the first US-facilitated overland evacuation since the troop pull out.
Speaking in Doha on Tuesday, Blinken said the US is still committed to ensuring that those who remain behind depart the country soon. Washington is holding the Taliban to a commitment made ensuring safe passage, he said.
Furthermore, the official said the US has been in contact with the Taliban “over the past hours”, noting the group said it is willing to allow the freedom of travel.
When asked about whether Qatar still considers the US an ally following the latest developments in Afghanistan, Sheikh Mohammed said the two countries’ ties are unchanged.
“The US is our most important ally, this relationship has been there for decades….the US has been a strong security, economic and educational partner.
“We have to support [Afghanistan] by building a strong coherent country, that has an inclusive government, the basic rights for the Afghans,” said the Qatari foreign minister.
The resumption of civilian flights in Afghanistan is still a top priority, with technical teams from both Qatar and Turkey being dispatched to Kabul over the past week to repair damages at the airport.
Qatar has also sent batches of aid to Kabul to help alleviate food security concerns. This came after discussions with the Taliban to ensure the airport is open for humanitarian assistance.
“Now what has been fixed is already making the airport capable of receiving charter flights. We’re starting the humanitarian aid flights as a test,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
However, the Qatari foreign minister said they have yet to reach an agreement with the Taliban over the operations at the airport.
Sheikh Mohammed said the current status will enable it receive flights for a limited time during the day, suggesting good news will be expected soon.
The Gulf state has also been ensuring that NGO’s are able to travel back-and-forth to Afghanistan to help alleviate the sufferings of Afghans, who have been lived under decades of war and corruption.
“Our aim is to focus on helping people who want to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible and also encourage UN agencies and other NGOs to provide help and support to Afghanistan. We have facilitated few trips to UN officials to try to reach an understanding with the Taliban to not disrupt humanitarian efforts,” said Qatar’s foreign minister.